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by [?]

What I marvel at is that I make a living at all. My telephone rings seven thousand eight hundred and six times a day, and only once in the last eight years has it been rung by any one who wanted to buy a story from me. The other eighty-two million times it was rung by people who wanted me to gather a new crop of goat-feathers.

At one time I moved out to the barn to get away from the telephone. The result was that I had to come down out of the second story of the barn, walk across my property, enter the house, and go upstairs every time the telephone rang. I did this eighty-two times a day, and then moved back to the house and had an extension telephone put in my workroom so close to my desk that every time I flexed a muscle I knocked the ‘phone off its table. This made it much handier for the goat-feather distributers, so they called me up oftener. They call me before I am out of bed, when I am in the bathtub, and after I go to bed. Usually they call me to the ‘phone and then tell me to wait a minute until Mr. Jonesky comes. The favorite times for calling me are when I am in the bathtub, when I am at meals, and when I am trying to concentrate on my writing.

I am not blaming any one for this. I did not have to rent a telephone. I could have let people come to the house. A great many do come to the house. On the average, it takes the person who comes to the house just one hour to state a proposition that could be put in a six-word telegram or ‘phoned in one minute. The visitor always begins with a few neat remarks about “Pigs and Pigs,” which is not the name of the story, tells how his grandmother laughed over it until she swallowed her false teeth, explains that his grandmother was one of the Tootlecoms of Worcester, but married into the Blahblah family. About half an hour later the visitor remarks, “I know you are very busy and I hate to ask you, but—-” Then he asks me to do some little trifle like raising $80,000,000 in Flushing for the War Fund of the One-Legged Gardeners’ League, which has a plan for planting sweet peas in the trenches in Mesopotamia. “We know you can do it,” he says pleasantly. I know I can do it, too. I feel the great urge of ability rise within me. I don’t care a hang for Mesopotamia, or for sweet peas in the trenches there; but it is something I can do, and I go ahead and do it. I gather two quarts of red, white, and blue goat-feathers, give eighteen magazine editors a chance to forget I am alive, and find at the end of the month that I am three hundred and forty dollars deeper in debt than I was before.

It has come about that people are actually offended if I don’t jump into every mad goat-feather quest that is proposed. I am firmly convinced that there is now extant an Association to Prevent Butler Doing a Full Day’s Work. I don’t want to seem egotistical, but I am now of the opinion that the Kaiser started the war in order to make it seem necessary for me to make Four-Minute speeches on Food Conservation, Give Your Binoculars, and Buy a Thrift Stamp.

Of course, all our patriotic, Liberty Loan, Red Cross, Thrift Stamp side-lining isn’t goat-feathering. The genuine variety is eagle-feather gathering, and I am as proud of my eagle-feathers as I am sour on my goat-feathers.

Now it is a fine thing to be treasurer of the Flushing Hospital, and it is a fine thing to be president of the Flushing Country Club, but the goat-feathers pall when you know that the reason you were given those glories was because nobody else would take them. It’s a “grand and glorious feelin'” to know you can take some affair and make it a success, or a near-success; but it is not business. A man may make a success of a Flushing Public Playground and not be making a success of himself. He may be making a goat of himself. The chances are ten to one that he is making a goat of himself.