Two Travelers sat in a Sleeping Car that was fixed up with Plush and Curly-Cues until it resembled a Chambermaid’s Dream of Paradise. They were talking about the Man who sat across the Aisle.
“I think he is an Englishman,” said the First Traveler.
“Why do you think so?” queried his Companion.
“Well, in the first place his Clothes don’t fit him,” replied the First Traveler. “I observe, also, that he has piled all his Luggage on Another Man’s Seat, that he has opened several Windows without asking Permission, that he has expected the Porter to pay Attention to him and nobody else, and that he has Kicked at something every Thirty Seconds since we left Buffalo.”
“You make out a Strong Case,” said the Second Traveler, nodding. “I will admit that the Suit is Fierce. Still, I maintain that he is not an Englishman. I notice that he seems somewhat Ashamed of his Clothes. Now, if he were an Englishman, he would Glory in the Misfit.”
“Perhaps he is a Canadian,” suggested the First Traveler.
“Impossible,” said the other. “He may be English, but he is not sufficiently British to be a Canadian. If he were a Canadian he would now be singing ‘Britannia Rules the Wave!’ No, I insist that he is an American traveling Incog. I suspect that I have Caught him with the Goods. While sitting here, I have had my Sherlock Holmes System at work. A few Moments ago he read a Joke in a Comic Paper, and the Light of Appreciation kindled in his Eye before a full Minute had elapsed.”
“Perhaps it was not a Comic Paper at all,” said the First Traveler. “It may have been Punch. Very often an Englishman will Get Next almost immediately if the Explanation is put in Parenthesis. You have to Hand it to him with a Diagram and a Map and then give him a little Time, and then he Drops. This man is certainly an Englishman. Notice the Expression of Disapproval. He does not fancy our Farm Scenery. Get onto the Shoes, too. They are shaped like Muffins. Then if you are still in Doubt, pay attention to the Accent. Didn’t you hear him just now when he was complaining to the Porter because the Sun was on the wrong side of the Car?”
“Yes, but did you hear him use ‘Cahn’t’ and ‘Glass’ both in the same Sentence? When a Man Plays it Both Ways, it is a Sign that he was born in Wisconsin and attended Harvard. I am convinced that he is not an Englishman at all. He is probably an American who takes a Bahth in a Bath-Tub.”
But the First Traveler persisted that surely the Man across the aisle was an Englishman, so they Jawed back and forth and finally made a Bet. Then the First Traveler stepped over and begged the Stranger’s Pardon and asked him, as a personal favor, to Identify himself. Was he an Englishman or an American?
“Really, that is a Hard Question to answer,” said the Surprised Stranger. “I confess with some Mortification that Father was an American, but he wore Detachable Cuffs and talked about Live Stock at the Table, so the Heirs are trying to Forget him. As nearly as we can learn, one of my Ancestors came to this Country from Yorkshire early in the Eighteenth Century and founded a Tannery in Massachusetts, so I feel that I can claim an English Birthright, regardless of the intervening Ancestors. My Claim is strengthened by the Fact that our Family has a Regular Coat-of-Arms. Everybody had forgotten about it for over Seven Hundred Years until Sister and I hired a Man to find it. Sister is now Lady Frost-Simpson and lives on the Other Side. When she discovered his Lordship he was down to his last Dickey. She took him out of Hock, and he is so Grateful that sometimes he lets me come and Visit them. I have seen the Prince.”