Beginning with the piece that made Mark Twain famous--"The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"--and ending with his fanciful "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper," this treasure trove of an anthology, an abridgment of the 1888 original, collects twenty of Twain's own pieces, in addition to tall tales, fables, and satires by forty-three of Twain's contemporaries, including Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ambrose Bierce, William Dean Howells, Joel Chandler Harris, Artemus Ward, and Bret Harte.


"Old pieces of humor are like antique toys: Some of them still work and some don't, but they all have a certain fascination. Especially if we know that they worked for Mark Twain. And when you find one that does still work after, say, a century and a half, if you are like me you say things like 'Look at that workmanship' to cover your wonderment at sharing inner-child glee with someone who was in the grave when your grandmother was born. To my surprise, I feel that way about a good many pieces in this book."        
--from the Introduction by Roy Blount, Jr.


CONTENTS

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County  Mark Twain
Warm Hair  Mark Twain
A Fight with a Trout  Charles Dudley Warner
The Villager and the Snake  George Thomas Lanigan
How We Astonished the Rivermouthians  Thomas Bailey Aldrich
The Legend of Mimir  Robert Jones Burdette
Tushmaker's Toothpuller  John Phoenix
The Tomb of Adam  Mark Twain
Rev. Cream Cheese and the New Livery, etc.  George William Curtis
Carrie's Comedy  William Livingstone Alden
To Correspondents  Josh Billings
The Worst Man and the Stupidest Man in Turkey  Samuel S. Cox
First-Class Snake Stories
His First Day at Editing  Eugene Field
Abelard and Heloise  Mark Twain
A Family Horse  F. W. Cozzens
A Genuine Mexican Plug  Mark Twain
A Visit to Brigham Young  Artemus Ward
The Simple Story of G. Washington  Robert J. Burdette
The Courtin'  James Russell Lowell
'Tis Only My Husband  Joseph C. Neal
A Day's Work  Mark Twain
Trying to Understand a Woman  W. D. Howells
A Female Base-Ball Club  James M. Bailey
Woman  Josh Billings
The Robin and the Woodpecker  Ambrose Bierce
The Tar Baby  Uncle Remus
Dick Baker's Cat  Mark Twain
The Haunted Room  R. J. Burdette
A Restless Night  Mark Twain
Rip Van Winkle  Washington Irving
The Ostrich and the Hen  Geo. T. Lanigan
Women's Rights  Artemus Ward
Nothing to Wear  William Allen Butler
Illustrated Newspapers  John Phoenix
Jack Downing in Portland  Seba Smith
A Dose of Pain Killer  Mark Twain
Fables of the Hodja  Samuel S. Cox
The Dog and the Bees  Ambrose Bierce
Sicily Burns's Wedding  George W. Harris
Ballad of the Rhine  Hans Breitmann
The Expensive Treat of Col. Moses Grice  Richard Malcolm Johnston
One of Mr. Ward's Business Letters  Artemus Ward
Woman Suffrage  R. J. Burdette
On "Forts"  Artemus Ward
The Fox and the Crow  Geo. T. Lanigan
European Diet  Mark Twain
The Vacation of Mustapha  R. J. Burdette
The First Piano in a Mining Camp  Sam Davis
Darius Green and His Flying Machine  J. T. Trowbridge
Plumbers  Charles Dudley Warner
The Remarkable Wreck of the "Thomas Hyke"  Frank R. Stockton
Experience of the McWilliamses with Membraneous Croup  Mark Twain
The Hodja's Donkey on His Veracity  S. S. Cox
Little Breeches  John Hay
Love's Young Dream  W. D. Howells
The Belle of Vallejo  W. L. Alden
Kitty Answers  W. D. Howells
Fourth of July Oration  Artemus Ward
The Parson's Horse-Race  Harriet Beecher Stowe
Wrecked in Port  R. J. Burdette
A Pleasure Exertion  Marietta Holley
The Ant and the Grain of Corn  Ambrose Bierce
The Man and the Goose  Ambrose Bierce
Nevada Nabobs in New York  Mark Twain
A Jersey Centenarian  Bret Harte
Phoenix at Sea  John Phoenix
A Victim of Hospitality  Rev. F. W. Shelton
The Donation Party  R. J. Burdette
The Peterkins Decide to Learn the Languages  Lucretia Peabody Hale
A Fatal Thirst  Bill Nye
Mrs. Brown's Fate
Captain Ben's Choice  Mrs. Francis Lee Pratt
The Mackrel  Josh Billings
A Quick Eye for Business
The Owl-Critic  Jas. T. Fields
The Kind-Hearted She-Elephant  Geo. T. Lanigan
A Dog in Church  Mark Twain
A Visit to the Asylum for Aged and Decayed Punsters  Oliver Wendell Holmes
Minnesota Wheat
Getting a Glass of Water  F. W. Cozzens
The Hodja as a Prophet  S. S. Cox
Blue-Jays  Mark Twain
An Italian's View of a New England Winter  J. M. Bailey
The Nobleman and the Oyster  Ambrose Bierce
Custom House Morals  W. D. Howells
A Western Reminiscence
The Total Depravity of Inanimate Things  Katherine Kent Child Walker
Oon Criteek de Bernhardt  Eugene Field
Lectures on Astronomy  John Phoenix
Little Charles and the Fruit
Our Italian Guide  Mark Twain
She Had to Take Her Things Along  Robert J. Burdette
The Garden and its Enemies  Charles Dudley Warner
The Hodja Makes Up His Mind to Marry  S. S. Cox
The Old Settler  Edward Harold Mott
Boy the Destroyer  Charles Dudley Warner
The Type-Writer  Robert J. Burdette
High-Handed Outrage at Utica  Artemus Ward
At Niagara  W. D. Howells
A New System of English Grammar  John Phoenix
In Sis's Interest
The Deacon's Masterpiece  O. W. Holmes
"Not Like in Like, but Like in Difference"  R. J. Burdette
Lost in the Snow  Mark Twain
Uncle Joshua Downing in Boston  Seba Smith
John Phoenix Renders the Editor of the "San Diego Herald" an Account of His Stewardship  John Phoenix
Economical Indeed
Hans Breitmann's Party  Hans Breitmann
A New Patent Medicine Operation  Q. K. Philander
Doesticks
The Centipede and the Barbaric Yak  G. T. Lanigan
The Cayote  Mark Twain
The Hodja's House  S. S. Cox
The Boy and the Tortoise  Ambrose Bierce
The Friend of My Youth  T. B. Aldrich
The Camel and the Zebra  Ambrose Bierce
"Success with Small Fruits"  R. J. Burdette
Natral and Unnatral Aristokrats  Josh Billings
Examples of Turkish Justice  S. S. Cox
A Great Fit  Orpheus C. Kerr
Artemus Ward and the Prince of Wales  Artemus Ward
Brilliant Drunkards  Charles Dudley Warner
Train Manners  R. J. Burdette
Their First Quarrel  W. D. Howells
The Neat Person  Josh Billings
Railway Volapük  R. J. Burdette
Simon Suggs Gets a "Soft Snap" on His Daddy  Johnson J. Hooper
Found  Josh Billings
Colonel Sellers at Home  Mark Twain
Interview with President Lincoln  Artemus Ward
The Alarmed Skipper  J. T. Fields
How I Killed a Bear  Charles Dudley Warner
The Grasshopper and the Ant  G. T. Lanigan
A Sleeping-Car Experience  Bret Harte
The Shopper  R. J. Burdette
The Bumble Bee  Josh Billings
Another Chance for Sorosis  R. J. Burdette
After the Funeral  J. M. Bailey
Cannibalism in the Cars  Mark Twain
Pie  Charles Dudley Warner
Butterwick's Little Gas Bill  Anonymous
Pistol Shooting--A Counter Challenge  John Phoenix
Boston  Artemus Ward
Sewing-Machine--Feline Attachment  John Phoenix
The Merchant of Venice and The Good Samaritan  G. T. Lanigan
Preaching v. Practice  R. J. Burdette
The Society Upon the Stanislaus  Bret Harte
What He Wanted It For  J. M. Bailey
Ants, Etc.  Josh Billings
The Romance of the Carpet  R. J. Burdette
Mr. Simpkins's Downfall  W. L. Alden
Mr. Rabbit Grossly Deceives Mr. Fox  Uncle Remus
How I Edited an Agricultural Paper  Mark Twain
THE WORST MAN AND THE STUPIDEST MAN IN TURKEY--SAMUEL S. COX

Samuel Sullivan Cox was born at Zanesville, O., September 30, 1824, and grew up in his native State. He entered journalistic life after graduating from Brown University, and has achieved distinction in politics as well as literature; his public services, in Congress and diplomacy, are as well-known as his books.

Several years ago the dragoman of our American Legation at Constantinople was asked to act as arbitrator in a dispute between a foreigner and an old Turkish doctor in law and theology. After several meetings with them, the dragoman concluded that the doctor was an ill-natured and unmanageable person. The latter had served for some years as cadi of the Civil Court at Smyrna. The dragoman related a story for his instruction. The story as to its place was in old Stamboul. As to its time, it does not matter much. Its moral is for every place and for all time. But it took place at the end of the sixteenth century, when the Turkish power was well established and growing. In other words, it was during the reign of Amurath III., the sixth emperor of the Ottomans, and grandson of Suleiman the Magnificent. This Sultan was not, as the sequel of the story shows, the worst of the Ottoman emperors. He was a tall, manly man, rather fat and quite pale, with a thin long beard. His face was not of a fierce aspect, like other Sultans. He was no rioter or reveler. He punished drunkards, and as for himself he indulged only in wormwood wine. His people knew that he loved justice, and although, according to an old chronicle, he caused his brothers to be strangled, "at which so tragicall a sight that he let some teares fall, as not delighting in such barbarous crueltie, but that the state and manner of his gouernment so required," still, he was, as the time was, a good prince.

But to the dragoman's story. Its moral had its uses, as the sequel reveals. This is the story, as it was told in one of the leisure hours at the Legation last summer:

"There was a man, Mustapha by name, who lived near the Golden Gate. He was well off, and when about to die, he called his son to him and said:

"'My dear boy, I am dying. Before I go, I want to give you my last will. Here are one hundred pounds. You will give it to the worst man you can find. Here are one hundred pounds more. This you will give to the stupidest man you can discover."

"A few days after, the father died. The son began to search for the bad man. Several men were pointed out, but he was not satisfied that they were the worst of men. Finally he hired a horse and went up to Yosgat, in Asia Minor. There the population unanimously pointed out their cadi as the worst man to be found anywhere. This information satisfied the son. He called on the cadi. He told the story of the will, and added:

" 'As I am desirous that the will of my father be accomplished, I beg you to receive these hundred pounds.'

"Said the cadi, 'How do you know that I am so bad as I am represented?'

" 'It is the testimony of the whole town,' said the son.

" 'I must tell you, young man, said the cadi, 'that it is contrary to my principles to accept any bribe or present. If I ever receive money, it is only for a con-sid-er-a-tion. Unless I give you the counter-value of your money, I cannot accept it!

"This reply of the cadi seemed just. It puzzled the young man. However, as he desired to fulfill his father's will, he continued to urge the cadi:

"'Mr. Judge,' said he, 'if you sell me something, could not the will of my father be fulfilled?'

"'Let me see,' said the cadi, looking around to find out what on earth he could sell to the youth, without destroying the spirit of the will. He reflected for a long time. Then all at once he was struck with a bright idea. Seeing that the courtyard of his house was filled with snow, about two feet deep, he said to the youth:

"'I will sell you yonder snow. Do you accept the bargain?'

"'Yes,' said the youth, seeing that there was nothing of value in the snow.

"The cadi then executed a regular deed, the fees of which were paid, of course, by the purchaser. The son then paid the hundred pounds for the snow.

"The boy went home; but he was not quite certain that he had strictly fulfilled the will of his father; for, after all, the cadi did not appear to him to be so very bad. Had he not decidedly refused to accept the money without a legal consideration?

"His perplexity was of short duration.

"The second day, early in the morning, the scribe of the cadi called on the youth and told him that the cadi wished to see him.

"'Well, I will go,' said the youth.

"'No,' said the scribe; 'I am ordered to take you there.'

"The youth resisted, and the scribe insisted. Finally the youth was compelled to submit, and went.

"'What do you want of me, Cadi Effendi,' said the boy.

"'Ah! you are welcome,' responded the cadi; 'I wanted you to come, because you have some snow in the courtyard which bothers me a great deal. The authorities cannot shoulder such a responsibility. Is not the deposit exposed? Can it be put under lock like other property? Besides, does it not occupy the road, to which the people have the right of easement? What follows? The result is, that your snow will be trampled or stolen, or it will melt, and then all the responsibility will rest on me. I am not prepared to assume it. I request you to carry away your snow.'

"'But, Cadi Effendi,' said the boy, 'I do not care. Let it melt; let it be stolen; let it be trampled on; I will make no claim for its value.'

"'Nothing of the kind,' said the cadi. 'You have no right to close the public way in that manner. Unless you take away your snow, I will confine you in prison, and make you answer for the nuisance, and for the decay of the property, which may be claimed by your heirs at some future time.'

"'Let it be swept out,' said the youth; 'I will defray the expense.'

"'Nonsense!' indignantly responded the cadi. 'Am I your servant? Besides, will it not take a great deal of money to have the snow swept out?'

"'I will pay the expense, whatever it is,' said the youth.

"'Well, it requires twenty pounds,' said the cadi.

"'I will pay that sum,' said the youth.

"Thus the cadi squeezed out twenty pounds more from the son of the deceased.

"The youth is, however, content. He is glad to find in this cadi a man of the meanness so indispensable to the fulfillment of the will of his father.

"After this experience the youth goes in search of the stupid man. He must filially fulfill the second clause of the will.



"While engaged in this search for stupidity, the son limits his efforts to his own fair city of Stamboul. He is on the street leading up to the Sublime Porte. He hears a band of music. It is moving toward the Sublime Porte. He is curious to know what it all means. He walks toward the music. When at a short distance he discovers a grand procession, with a display of soldiers. He notices a comparatively old man riding a white Arabian horse. He is dressed in a magnificent uniform. His breast is covered with decorations of every size, color and description. The trappings of the horse are covered with gold embroideries. The old man is surrounded by a dozen high officials of the government of Amurath III. They, too, are dressed finely; they have recently returned from the Caucasus laden with riches, and they display their grand robes and jewels. They have gorgeously embroidered uniforms and ride splendid horses. They are followed by an immense crowd. All Galata, as well as Stamboul, is afoot to see the sight. Murmurs in threescore dialects rise on the sunny air. The son of Mustapha follows the crowd. He asks a pedestrian in a green turban, who sits by the fountain:

"'What is the procession about?'

"He is informed that the old man is the newly appointed Grand Vizier of Amurath. The Vizier is going to take possession of his post. He is thus escorted with the usual solemnity.

"When the procession arrives at the gate of the Sublime Porte, the Grand Vizier dismounts on the foot-stone in front of the entrance, and, strange to say, there on that very foot-stone is a big tray; and on the tray, a human head freshly decapitated.

"The sight is blood-curdling. The youth is struck dumb with horror. Then, recovering his senses, he finds out the meaning of the usage. He is told that the bloody head is that of the preceding Grand Vizier, who had acted wrongfully, and was therefore beheaded.

"'Will his successor succeed him in the tray also?' asks the youth, of a zaptieh who was standing near to police the procession.

"'Nowadays it is difficult to escape it,' is the answer of the policeman.

"After this answer, the youth makes immediate inquiries. He discovers the 'Kiahaja' of the new Grand Vizier, for every Grand Vizier has a factotum. He goes to the Kiahaja and requests him to deliver to the Grand Vizier the hundred pounds which his father had willed. The Kiahaja, after inquiring the name of the youth and his whereabouts, receives the money. Later on, he takes the hundred pounds to the Grand Vizier. This high official is puzzled.

"'Who,' he inquires, 'is the friend that left the money to me, and why?'

" He calls for the youth. The youth comes. The Grand Vizier asks him about his father. The boy replies:

"'His name was Mustapha. He lived near the Golden Gate; but you did not know him, my lord!'

"'But he knew me?'

"'No, my lord, he did not.'

"'Then why this bequest to me?

"The youth then gives the Grand Vizier the story, and adds that he could not expect to find a more stupid man or a greater idiot than the Grand Vizier; therefore, he concludes that the hundred pounds are due to that official, under his father's will.

"This puzzles the Grand Vizier, who says:

"'How do you know that I am a stupid man? Neither you nor your father knew me.'

"'Your acceptance of the position of Grand Vizier,' says the youth, 'in the presence of the dead head of your predecessor, speaks for itself. It needs no explanation!

"The Grand Vizier can make no rational answer. He takes hold of his beard, strokes it, and considers for a minute.

"Then he says to the youth: 'Son of the good and wise Mustapha, will you not be my guest for to-night? To-morrow morning I must talk with you.' The boy accepts the invitation.

"In the morning the Grand Vizier calls the youth. He informs him that he is going to the palace of Amurath at the Seraglio Point. He desires the youth to accompany him. The boy objects. It is no use. The Grand Vizier compels him to go with him.

"They reach the palace. The Grand Vizier goes straightway to the Chief Eunuch, and thus addresses that beautiful Arabian:

"'Your Highness: I am aware that His Majesty, in bestowing on me the responsible and confidential position of Grand Vizier, did me the greatest honor a man can ever expect in this world. I am grateful to him for such a rare distinction. But, Highness, here is a young man who came to see me yesterday, and spoke to me in such a wonderful way that I feel bound to tender my resignation. After my conversation with him, I feel incapable of sustaining the dignity which His Majesty deserves.'

"The Eunuch is thunderstruck. Up to that time no Grand Vizier had ever dared to resign. But the action of the Vizier seems so strange to the Eunuch, that the latter at once goes and reports it to the Sultan. The Sultan is amazed and indignant. He demands the presence of the Grand Vizier and the youth. When they appear they find that Amurath is not in one of his best moods. The Janizaries have been threatening him. His wife, sister and mother, on whom he relies for comfort in his poor health and mental distress, have in vain endeavored to placate and pacify him. His pale face grows scarlet with anger. He hotly addresses the Grand Vizier:

"'How is it, sirrah! that you presume to dare to tender your resignation?'

"'Your Majesty,' says the Grand Vizier, 'I know that I am doing a bold act; but it is this boy,' pointing out the simple youth, 'who compels me to do it. If your Highness wants to know the reasons, the boy will give them to you. I am sure that after hearing them you will acknowledge that, as I am considered the most stupid man in your empire, it is not becoming to your dignity to retain me as your immediate representative.'

"The boy is then called. He gives his story. The Sultan smiles. His innate sense of justice returns. He issues an irade that henceforth no Grand Vizier shall be beheaded."
Washington Irving (1783–1859) is generally credited with being the father of the American short story and was the first American writer to achieve international renown. View titles by Washington Irving

About

Beginning with the piece that made Mark Twain famous--"The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"--and ending with his fanciful "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper," this treasure trove of an anthology, an abridgment of the 1888 original, collects twenty of Twain's own pieces, in addition to tall tales, fables, and satires by forty-three of Twain's contemporaries, including Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ambrose Bierce, William Dean Howells, Joel Chandler Harris, Artemus Ward, and Bret Harte.


"Old pieces of humor are like antique toys: Some of them still work and some don't, but they all have a certain fascination. Especially if we know that they worked for Mark Twain. And when you find one that does still work after, say, a century and a half, if you are like me you say things like 'Look at that workmanship' to cover your wonderment at sharing inner-child glee with someone who was in the grave when your grandmother was born. To my surprise, I feel that way about a good many pieces in this book."        
--from the Introduction by Roy Blount, Jr.


CONTENTS

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County  Mark Twain
Warm Hair  Mark Twain
A Fight with a Trout  Charles Dudley Warner
The Villager and the Snake  George Thomas Lanigan
How We Astonished the Rivermouthians  Thomas Bailey Aldrich
The Legend of Mimir  Robert Jones Burdette
Tushmaker's Toothpuller  John Phoenix
The Tomb of Adam  Mark Twain
Rev. Cream Cheese and the New Livery, etc.  George William Curtis
Carrie's Comedy  William Livingstone Alden
To Correspondents  Josh Billings
The Worst Man and the Stupidest Man in Turkey  Samuel S. Cox
First-Class Snake Stories
His First Day at Editing  Eugene Field
Abelard and Heloise  Mark Twain
A Family Horse  F. W. Cozzens
A Genuine Mexican Plug  Mark Twain
A Visit to Brigham Young  Artemus Ward
The Simple Story of G. Washington  Robert J. Burdette
The Courtin'  James Russell Lowell
'Tis Only My Husband  Joseph C. Neal
A Day's Work  Mark Twain
Trying to Understand a Woman  W. D. Howells
A Female Base-Ball Club  James M. Bailey
Woman  Josh Billings
The Robin and the Woodpecker  Ambrose Bierce
The Tar Baby  Uncle Remus
Dick Baker's Cat  Mark Twain
The Haunted Room  R. J. Burdette
A Restless Night  Mark Twain
Rip Van Winkle  Washington Irving
The Ostrich and the Hen  Geo. T. Lanigan
Women's Rights  Artemus Ward
Nothing to Wear  William Allen Butler
Illustrated Newspapers  John Phoenix
Jack Downing in Portland  Seba Smith
A Dose of Pain Killer  Mark Twain
Fables of the Hodja  Samuel S. Cox
The Dog and the Bees  Ambrose Bierce
Sicily Burns's Wedding  George W. Harris
Ballad of the Rhine  Hans Breitmann
The Expensive Treat of Col. Moses Grice  Richard Malcolm Johnston
One of Mr. Ward's Business Letters  Artemus Ward
Woman Suffrage  R. J. Burdette
On "Forts"  Artemus Ward
The Fox and the Crow  Geo. T. Lanigan
European Diet  Mark Twain
The Vacation of Mustapha  R. J. Burdette
The First Piano in a Mining Camp  Sam Davis
Darius Green and His Flying Machine  J. T. Trowbridge
Plumbers  Charles Dudley Warner
The Remarkable Wreck of the "Thomas Hyke"  Frank R. Stockton
Experience of the McWilliamses with Membraneous Croup  Mark Twain
The Hodja's Donkey on His Veracity  S. S. Cox
Little Breeches  John Hay
Love's Young Dream  W. D. Howells
The Belle of Vallejo  W. L. Alden
Kitty Answers  W. D. Howells
Fourth of July Oration  Artemus Ward
The Parson's Horse-Race  Harriet Beecher Stowe
Wrecked in Port  R. J. Burdette
A Pleasure Exertion  Marietta Holley
The Ant and the Grain of Corn  Ambrose Bierce
The Man and the Goose  Ambrose Bierce
Nevada Nabobs in New York  Mark Twain
A Jersey Centenarian  Bret Harte
Phoenix at Sea  John Phoenix
A Victim of Hospitality  Rev. F. W. Shelton
The Donation Party  R. J. Burdette
The Peterkins Decide to Learn the Languages  Lucretia Peabody Hale
A Fatal Thirst  Bill Nye
Mrs. Brown's Fate
Captain Ben's Choice  Mrs. Francis Lee Pratt
The Mackrel  Josh Billings
A Quick Eye for Business
The Owl-Critic  Jas. T. Fields
The Kind-Hearted She-Elephant  Geo. T. Lanigan
A Dog in Church  Mark Twain
A Visit to the Asylum for Aged and Decayed Punsters  Oliver Wendell Holmes
Minnesota Wheat
Getting a Glass of Water  F. W. Cozzens
The Hodja as a Prophet  S. S. Cox
Blue-Jays  Mark Twain
An Italian's View of a New England Winter  J. M. Bailey
The Nobleman and the Oyster  Ambrose Bierce
Custom House Morals  W. D. Howells
A Western Reminiscence
The Total Depravity of Inanimate Things  Katherine Kent Child Walker
Oon Criteek de Bernhardt  Eugene Field
Lectures on Astronomy  John Phoenix
Little Charles and the Fruit
Our Italian Guide  Mark Twain
She Had to Take Her Things Along  Robert J. Burdette
The Garden and its Enemies  Charles Dudley Warner
The Hodja Makes Up His Mind to Marry  S. S. Cox
The Old Settler  Edward Harold Mott
Boy the Destroyer  Charles Dudley Warner
The Type-Writer  Robert J. Burdette
High-Handed Outrage at Utica  Artemus Ward
At Niagara  W. D. Howells
A New System of English Grammar  John Phoenix
In Sis's Interest
The Deacon's Masterpiece  O. W. Holmes
"Not Like in Like, but Like in Difference"  R. J. Burdette
Lost in the Snow  Mark Twain
Uncle Joshua Downing in Boston  Seba Smith
John Phoenix Renders the Editor of the "San Diego Herald" an Account of His Stewardship  John Phoenix
Economical Indeed
Hans Breitmann's Party  Hans Breitmann
A New Patent Medicine Operation  Q. K. Philander
Doesticks
The Centipede and the Barbaric Yak  G. T. Lanigan
The Cayote  Mark Twain
The Hodja's House  S. S. Cox
The Boy and the Tortoise  Ambrose Bierce
The Friend of My Youth  T. B. Aldrich
The Camel and the Zebra  Ambrose Bierce
"Success with Small Fruits"  R. J. Burdette
Natral and Unnatral Aristokrats  Josh Billings
Examples of Turkish Justice  S. S. Cox
A Great Fit  Orpheus C. Kerr
Artemus Ward and the Prince of Wales  Artemus Ward
Brilliant Drunkards  Charles Dudley Warner
Train Manners  R. J. Burdette
Their First Quarrel  W. D. Howells
The Neat Person  Josh Billings
Railway Volapük  R. J. Burdette
Simon Suggs Gets a "Soft Snap" on His Daddy  Johnson J. Hooper
Found  Josh Billings
Colonel Sellers at Home  Mark Twain
Interview with President Lincoln  Artemus Ward
The Alarmed Skipper  J. T. Fields
How I Killed a Bear  Charles Dudley Warner
The Grasshopper and the Ant  G. T. Lanigan
A Sleeping-Car Experience  Bret Harte
The Shopper  R. J. Burdette
The Bumble Bee  Josh Billings
Another Chance for Sorosis  R. J. Burdette
After the Funeral  J. M. Bailey
Cannibalism in the Cars  Mark Twain
Pie  Charles Dudley Warner
Butterwick's Little Gas Bill  Anonymous
Pistol Shooting--A Counter Challenge  John Phoenix
Boston  Artemus Ward
Sewing-Machine--Feline Attachment  John Phoenix
The Merchant of Venice and The Good Samaritan  G. T. Lanigan
Preaching v. Practice  R. J. Burdette
The Society Upon the Stanislaus  Bret Harte
What He Wanted It For  J. M. Bailey
Ants, Etc.  Josh Billings
The Romance of the Carpet  R. J. Burdette
Mr. Simpkins's Downfall  W. L. Alden
Mr. Rabbit Grossly Deceives Mr. Fox  Uncle Remus
How I Edited an Agricultural Paper  Mark Twain

Excerpt

THE WORST MAN AND THE STUPIDEST MAN IN TURKEY--SAMUEL S. COX

Samuel Sullivan Cox was born at Zanesville, O., September 30, 1824, and grew up in his native State. He entered journalistic life after graduating from Brown University, and has achieved distinction in politics as well as literature; his public services, in Congress and diplomacy, are as well-known as his books.

Several years ago the dragoman of our American Legation at Constantinople was asked to act as arbitrator in a dispute between a foreigner and an old Turkish doctor in law and theology. After several meetings with them, the dragoman concluded that the doctor was an ill-natured and unmanageable person. The latter had served for some years as cadi of the Civil Court at Smyrna. The dragoman related a story for his instruction. The story as to its place was in old Stamboul. As to its time, it does not matter much. Its moral is for every place and for all time. But it took place at the end of the sixteenth century, when the Turkish power was well established and growing. In other words, it was during the reign of Amurath III., the sixth emperor of the Ottomans, and grandson of Suleiman the Magnificent. This Sultan was not, as the sequel of the story shows, the worst of the Ottoman emperors. He was a tall, manly man, rather fat and quite pale, with a thin long beard. His face was not of a fierce aspect, like other Sultans. He was no rioter or reveler. He punished drunkards, and as for himself he indulged only in wormwood wine. His people knew that he loved justice, and although, according to an old chronicle, he caused his brothers to be strangled, "at which so tragicall a sight that he let some teares fall, as not delighting in such barbarous crueltie, but that the state and manner of his gouernment so required," still, he was, as the time was, a good prince.

But to the dragoman's story. Its moral had its uses, as the sequel reveals. This is the story, as it was told in one of the leisure hours at the Legation last summer:

"There was a man, Mustapha by name, who lived near the Golden Gate. He was well off, and when about to die, he called his son to him and said:

"'My dear boy, I am dying. Before I go, I want to give you my last will. Here are one hundred pounds. You will give it to the worst man you can find. Here are one hundred pounds more. This you will give to the stupidest man you can discover."

"A few days after, the father died. The son began to search for the bad man. Several men were pointed out, but he was not satisfied that they were the worst of men. Finally he hired a horse and went up to Yosgat, in Asia Minor. There the population unanimously pointed out their cadi as the worst man to be found anywhere. This information satisfied the son. He called on the cadi. He told the story of the will, and added:

" 'As I am desirous that the will of my father be accomplished, I beg you to receive these hundred pounds.'

"Said the cadi, 'How do you know that I am so bad as I am represented?'

" 'It is the testimony of the whole town,' said the son.

" 'I must tell you, young man, said the cadi, 'that it is contrary to my principles to accept any bribe or present. If I ever receive money, it is only for a con-sid-er-a-tion. Unless I give you the counter-value of your money, I cannot accept it!

"This reply of the cadi seemed just. It puzzled the young man. However, as he desired to fulfill his father's will, he continued to urge the cadi:

"'Mr. Judge,' said he, 'if you sell me something, could not the will of my father be fulfilled?'

"'Let me see,' said the cadi, looking around to find out what on earth he could sell to the youth, without destroying the spirit of the will. He reflected for a long time. Then all at once he was struck with a bright idea. Seeing that the courtyard of his house was filled with snow, about two feet deep, he said to the youth:

"'I will sell you yonder snow. Do you accept the bargain?'

"'Yes,' said the youth, seeing that there was nothing of value in the snow.

"The cadi then executed a regular deed, the fees of which were paid, of course, by the purchaser. The son then paid the hundred pounds for the snow.

"The boy went home; but he was not quite certain that he had strictly fulfilled the will of his father; for, after all, the cadi did not appear to him to be so very bad. Had he not decidedly refused to accept the money without a legal consideration?

"His perplexity was of short duration.

"The second day, early in the morning, the scribe of the cadi called on the youth and told him that the cadi wished to see him.

"'Well, I will go,' said the youth.

"'No,' said the scribe; 'I am ordered to take you there.'

"The youth resisted, and the scribe insisted. Finally the youth was compelled to submit, and went.

"'What do you want of me, Cadi Effendi,' said the boy.

"'Ah! you are welcome,' responded the cadi; 'I wanted you to come, because you have some snow in the courtyard which bothers me a great deal. The authorities cannot shoulder such a responsibility. Is not the deposit exposed? Can it be put under lock like other property? Besides, does it not occupy the road, to which the people have the right of easement? What follows? The result is, that your snow will be trampled or stolen, or it will melt, and then all the responsibility will rest on me. I am not prepared to assume it. I request you to carry away your snow.'

"'But, Cadi Effendi,' said the boy, 'I do not care. Let it melt; let it be stolen; let it be trampled on; I will make no claim for its value.'

"'Nothing of the kind,' said the cadi. 'You have no right to close the public way in that manner. Unless you take away your snow, I will confine you in prison, and make you answer for the nuisance, and for the decay of the property, which may be claimed by your heirs at some future time.'

"'Let it be swept out,' said the youth; 'I will defray the expense.'

"'Nonsense!' indignantly responded the cadi. 'Am I your servant? Besides, will it not take a great deal of money to have the snow swept out?'

"'I will pay the expense, whatever it is,' said the youth.

"'Well, it requires twenty pounds,' said the cadi.

"'I will pay that sum,' said the youth.

"Thus the cadi squeezed out twenty pounds more from the son of the deceased.

"The youth is, however, content. He is glad to find in this cadi a man of the meanness so indispensable to the fulfillment of the will of his father.

"After this experience the youth goes in search of the stupid man. He must filially fulfill the second clause of the will.



"While engaged in this search for stupidity, the son limits his efforts to his own fair city of Stamboul. He is on the street leading up to the Sublime Porte. He hears a band of music. It is moving toward the Sublime Porte. He is curious to know what it all means. He walks toward the music. When at a short distance he discovers a grand procession, with a display of soldiers. He notices a comparatively old man riding a white Arabian horse. He is dressed in a magnificent uniform. His breast is covered with decorations of every size, color and description. The trappings of the horse are covered with gold embroideries. The old man is surrounded by a dozen high officials of the government of Amurath III. They, too, are dressed finely; they have recently returned from the Caucasus laden with riches, and they display their grand robes and jewels. They have gorgeously embroidered uniforms and ride splendid horses. They are followed by an immense crowd. All Galata, as well as Stamboul, is afoot to see the sight. Murmurs in threescore dialects rise on the sunny air. The son of Mustapha follows the crowd. He asks a pedestrian in a green turban, who sits by the fountain:

"'What is the procession about?'

"He is informed that the old man is the newly appointed Grand Vizier of Amurath. The Vizier is going to take possession of his post. He is thus escorted with the usual solemnity.

"When the procession arrives at the gate of the Sublime Porte, the Grand Vizier dismounts on the foot-stone in front of the entrance, and, strange to say, there on that very foot-stone is a big tray; and on the tray, a human head freshly decapitated.

"The sight is blood-curdling. The youth is struck dumb with horror. Then, recovering his senses, he finds out the meaning of the usage. He is told that the bloody head is that of the preceding Grand Vizier, who had acted wrongfully, and was therefore beheaded.

"'Will his successor succeed him in the tray also?' asks the youth, of a zaptieh who was standing near to police the procession.

"'Nowadays it is difficult to escape it,' is the answer of the policeman.

"After this answer, the youth makes immediate inquiries. He discovers the 'Kiahaja' of the new Grand Vizier, for every Grand Vizier has a factotum. He goes to the Kiahaja and requests him to deliver to the Grand Vizier the hundred pounds which his father had willed. The Kiahaja, after inquiring the name of the youth and his whereabouts, receives the money. Later on, he takes the hundred pounds to the Grand Vizier. This high official is puzzled.

"'Who,' he inquires, 'is the friend that left the money to me, and why?'

" He calls for the youth. The youth comes. The Grand Vizier asks him about his father. The boy replies:

"'His name was Mustapha. He lived near the Golden Gate; but you did not know him, my lord!'

"'But he knew me?'

"'No, my lord, he did not.'

"'Then why this bequest to me?

"The youth then gives the Grand Vizier the story, and adds that he could not expect to find a more stupid man or a greater idiot than the Grand Vizier; therefore, he concludes that the hundred pounds are due to that official, under his father's will.

"This puzzles the Grand Vizier, who says:

"'How do you know that I am a stupid man? Neither you nor your father knew me.'

"'Your acceptance of the position of Grand Vizier,' says the youth, 'in the presence of the dead head of your predecessor, speaks for itself. It needs no explanation!

"The Grand Vizier can make no rational answer. He takes hold of his beard, strokes it, and considers for a minute.

"Then he says to the youth: 'Son of the good and wise Mustapha, will you not be my guest for to-night? To-morrow morning I must talk with you.' The boy accepts the invitation.

"In the morning the Grand Vizier calls the youth. He informs him that he is going to the palace of Amurath at the Seraglio Point. He desires the youth to accompany him. The boy objects. It is no use. The Grand Vizier compels him to go with him.

"They reach the palace. The Grand Vizier goes straightway to the Chief Eunuch, and thus addresses that beautiful Arabian:

"'Your Highness: I am aware that His Majesty, in bestowing on me the responsible and confidential position of Grand Vizier, did me the greatest honor a man can ever expect in this world. I am grateful to him for such a rare distinction. But, Highness, here is a young man who came to see me yesterday, and spoke to me in such a wonderful way that I feel bound to tender my resignation. After my conversation with him, I feel incapable of sustaining the dignity which His Majesty deserves.'

"The Eunuch is thunderstruck. Up to that time no Grand Vizier had ever dared to resign. But the action of the Vizier seems so strange to the Eunuch, that the latter at once goes and reports it to the Sultan. The Sultan is amazed and indignant. He demands the presence of the Grand Vizier and the youth. When they appear they find that Amurath is not in one of his best moods. The Janizaries have been threatening him. His wife, sister and mother, on whom he relies for comfort in his poor health and mental distress, have in vain endeavored to placate and pacify him. His pale face grows scarlet with anger. He hotly addresses the Grand Vizier:

"'How is it, sirrah! that you presume to dare to tender your resignation?'

"'Your Majesty,' says the Grand Vizier, 'I know that I am doing a bold act; but it is this boy,' pointing out the simple youth, 'who compels me to do it. If your Highness wants to know the reasons, the boy will give them to you. I am sure that after hearing them you will acknowledge that, as I am considered the most stupid man in your empire, it is not becoming to your dignity to retain me as your immediate representative.'

"The boy is then called. He gives his story. The Sultan smiles. His innate sense of justice returns. He issues an irade that henceforth no Grand Vizier shall be beheaded."

Author

Washington Irving (1783–1859) is generally credited with being the father of the American short story and was the first American writer to achieve international renown. View titles by Washington Irving

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