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Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven
by [?]

“Oh, I know the one he means, now, sir. It is on the map. It is called the Wart.”

Says I to myself, “Young man, it wouldn’t be wholesome for you to go down THERE and call it the Wart.”

Well, they let me in, then, and told me I was safe forever and wouldn’t have any more trouble.

Then they turned from me and went on with their work, the same as if they considered my case all complete and shipshape. I was a good deal surprised at this, but I was diffident about speaking up and reminding them. I did so hate to do it, you know; it seemed a pity to bother them, they had so much on their hands. Twice I thought I would give up and let the thing go; so twice I started to leave, but immediately I thought what a figure I should cut stepping out amongst the redeemed in such a rig, and that made me hang back and come to anchor again. People got to eying me– clerks, you know–wondering why I didn’t get under way. I couldn’t stand this long–it was too uncomfortable. So at last I plucked up courage and tipped the head clerk a signal. He says–

“What! you here yet? What’s wanting?”

Says I, in a low voice and very confidential, making a trumpet with my hands at his ear–

“I beg pardon, and you mustn’t mind my reminding you, and seeming to meddle, but hain’t you forgot something?”

He studied a second, and says–

“Forgot something? . . . No, not that I know of.”

“Think,” says I.

He thought. Then he says–

“No, I can’t seem to have forgot anything. What is it?”

“Look at me,” says I, “look me all over.”

He done it.

“Well?” says he.

“Well,” says I, “you don’t notice anything? If I branched out amongst the elect looking like this, wouldn’t I attract considerable attention?–wouldn’t I be a little conspicuous?”

“Well,” he says, “I don’t see anything the matter. What do you lack?”

“Lack! Why, I lack my harp, and my wreath, and my halo, and my hymn-book, and my palm branch–I lack everything that a body naturally requires up here, my friend.”

Puzzled? Peters, he was the worst puzzled man you ever saw. Finally he says–

“Well, you seem to be a curiosity every way a body takes you. I never heard of these things before.”

I looked at the man awhile in solid astonishment; then I says–

“Now, I hope you don’t take it as an offence, for I don’t mean any, but really, for a man that has been in the Kingdom as long as I reckon you have, you do seem to know powerful little about its customs.”

“Its customs!” says he. “Heaven is a large place, good friend. Large empires have many and diverse customs. Even small dominions have, as you doubtless know by what you have seen of the matter on a small scale in the Wart. How can you imagine I could ever learn the varied customs of the countless kingdoms of heaven? It makes my head ache to think of it. I know the customs that prevail in those portions inhabited by peoples that are appointed to enter by my own gate–and hark ye, that is quite enough knowledge for one individual to try to pack into his head in the thirty-seven millions of years I have devoted night and day to that study. But the idea of learning the customs of the whole appalling expanse of heaven–O man, how insanely you talk! Now I don’t doubt that this odd costume you talk about is the fashion in that district of heaven you belong to, but you won’t be conspicuous in this section without it.”

I felt all right, if that was the case, so I bade him good-day and left. All day I walked towards the far end of a prodigious hall of the office, hoping to come out into heaven any moment, but it was a mistake. That hall was built on the general heavenly plan–it naturally couldn’t be small. At last I got so tired I couldn’t go any farther; so I sat down to rest, and begun to tackle the queerest sort of strangers and ask for information, but I didn’t get any; they couldn’t understand my language, and I could not understand theirs. I got dreadfully lonesome. I was so down- hearted and homesick I wished a hundred times I never had died. I turned back, of course. About noon next day, I got back at last and was on hand at the booking-office once more. Says I to the head clerk–