Once there was an Indian who had a Way of putting on all his Feathers and breaking out of the Reservation.
For three Weeks at a Stretch he gave a Correct Imitation of the Shining Light who passes the Basket and superintends the Repairs on the Parsonage. He was entitled to a Mark of 100 for Deportment. With his Meals he drank a little Polly. After Dinner he smoked one Perfecto and then, when he had put in a frolicsome Hour or so with the North American Review, he crawled into the Hay at 9.30 P.M.
At last he accumulated a Sense of Virtue that was hard to carry around. He was proud of himself when he counted up the number of days during which he had stuck to the Straight and Narrow. It seemed to him that he deserved a Reward. So he decided to buy himself a little Present, something costing about 15 cents. He picked out a First-Class Place where they had Electric Fans and Pictures by the Old Masters. He poured out a Working-man’s Size–the kind that makes the Barkeep stop wiping up and look unfriendly for a Moment or two.
Then he remembered that a Bird cannot fly with one Wing, so he gently raised the Index Finger and gave the Prescription Clerk a Look, which in the Sign Language means, “Repeat the Dose.”
It is an Historical Fact that when a Man falls backward from the Water Wagon he always lands in a Crowd. The full Stage Setting, the Light Effects and the Red Fire were all ready to make it a Spectacular Affair. Just after he had mowed away No. 2 and had stopped worrying about the Winter’s Coal, he began to meet Friends who were dying of Thirst. Then the atmosphere began to be curdled with High Balls and Plymouth Sours and Mint Smashes, and he was telling a Shoe Drummer that a lot of People who had been knocking him would probably be working for him before the Year was out.
Then he found himself in a four-oared Cablet and the Sea became very Rough. There was something out of Whack with the Steering Gear, for instead of bringing up at his Boarding House he found himself at another Rum Parlor. The Man who owned the Place had lost the Key and could not lock up. Here he met several Delegates to a State Convention of a Fraternal Order having for its Purpose the uplifting of Mankind. They wore Blue Badges and were fighting to get their Money into the Cash Register. In a little while he and a red-headed Delegate were up by the Cigar Counter singing, “How can I bear to leave thee?” He put in an Application for Membership and then the next Picture that came out of the Fog was a Chop Suey Restaurant and everybody breaking Dishes.
Soon after, the Lights went out and when he came back to Earth he was lying the wrong way of his Bed with Blue Badges all over him, trying to swallow a Bath Towel, which he afterward discovered was his Tongue. By getting a Leverage under his Head he managed to pry it up and then he sat on the edge of the Bed and called himself Names. He had nothing left over except the Cards given to him by the Brothers from up State somewhere. He had a dim and sneaking Recollection that he had given his address and Phone Number to the whole Tribe and begged them to look him up.
“Not any more in Mine,” said he, as he held a Towel under the Faucet. “Not for all of Morgan’s would I look at any more of that Essence of Trouble. I wonder if I’ll live through the Morning.”
That Day he lived on Bromo and Ice, and the only Satisfaction this Life offered was the Fact that he was a Reformed Man.