By Guest Contributor Max Adeler.
Major Slott, like most other editors, is continually persecuted by bores, but recently he was the victim of a peculiarly dastardly attack from a person of this class. While he was sitting in the office of the Patriot, writing an editorial about “Our Grinding Monopolies,” he suddenly became conscious of the presence of a fearful smell. He stopped, snuffed the air two or three times, and at last lighted a cigar to fumigate the room. Then he heard footsteps upon the stairs, and as they drew nearer the smell grew stronger. When it had reached a degree of intensity that caused the major to fear that it might break some of the furniture, there was a knock at the door. Then a man entered with a bundle under his arm, and as he did so the major thought that he had never smelt such a fiendish smell in the whole course of his life. He held his nose; and when the man saw the gesture, he said, “I thought so; the usual effect. You hold it tight while I explain.”
“What hab you god id that buddle?” asked the major.
“That, sir,” said the man, “is Barker’s Carbolic Disinfecting Door-mat. I am Barker, and this is the mat. I invented it, and it’s a big thing.”
“Is id thad thad smells so thudderig bad?” asked the major, with his nostrils tightly shut.
“Yes, sir; smells very strong, but it’s a healthy smell. It’s invigorating. It braces the system. I’ll tell you—”
“Gid oud with the blabed thig!” exclaimed the major.
“I must tell you all about it first. I called to explain it to you. You see I’ve been investigating the causes of epidemic diseases. Some scientists think they are spread by molecules in the air; others attribute them to gases generated in the sewers; others hold that they are conveyed by contagion; but I—”
“Aid you goig to tague thad idferdal thig away frob here?” asked the major.
“But I have discovered that these diseases are spread by the agency of door-mats. Do you understand? Door-mats! And I’ll explain to you how it’s done. Here’s a man who’s been in a house where there’s disease. He gets it on his boots. The leather is porous, and it becomes saturated. He goes to another house and wipes his boots on the mat. Now, every man who uses that mat must get some of the stuff on his boots, and he spreads it over every other door-mat that he wipes them on. Now, don’t he?”
“Why dode you tague thad sbell frob udder by dose?”
“Well, then, my idea is to construct a door-mat that will disinfect those boots. I do it by saturating the mat with carbolic acid and drying it gradually. I have one here prepared by my process. Shall I unroll it?”
“If you do, I’ll blow your braids out!” shouted the major.
“Oh, very well, then. Now, the objection to this beautiful invention is that it possesses a very strong and positive odor.”
“I’ll bed it does,” said the major.
“And as this is offensive to many persons, I give to each purchaser a ‘nose-guard,’ which is to be worn upon the nose while in a house where the carbolic mat is placed. This nose-guard is filled with a substance which completely neutralizes the smell, and it has only one disadvantage. Now, what is that?”
“Are you goig to quid and led me breathe, or are you goig to stay here all day log?”
“Have patience, now; I’m coming to the point. I say, what is that? It is that the neutralizing substance in the nose-guard evaporates too quickly. And how do I remedy that? I give to every man who buys a mat and a nose-guard two bottles of ‘neutralizer.’ What it is composed of is a secret. But the bottles are to be carried in the pocket, so as to be ready for every emergency. The disadvantage of this plan consists of the fact that the neutralizer is highly explosive, and if a man should happen to sit down on a bottle of it in his coat-tail pocket suddenly it might hist him through the roof. But see how beautiful my scheme is.”
“Oh, thudder add lightnig! aid you ever goig to quid?”
“See how complete it is! By paying twenty dollars additional, every man who takes a mat has his life protected in the Hopelessly Mutual Accident Insurance Company, so that it really makes no great difference whether he is busted through the shingles or not. Now, does it?”
“Oh, dode ask me. I dode care a ced about id, adyway.”
“Well, then, what I want you to do is to give me a first-rate notice in your paper, describing the invention, giving the public some general notion of its merits and recommending its adoption into general use. You give me a half-column puff, and I’ll make the thing square by leaving you one of the mats, with a couple of bottles of the neutralizer and a nose-guard. I’ll leave them now.”
“Whad d’you say?”
“I say I’ll just leave you a mat and the other fixings for you to look over at your leisure.”
“You biserable scoundrel, if you lay wod ob those blasted thigs dowd here, I’ll burder you od the spod! I wod stad such foolishness.”
“Won’t you notice it, either?”
“Certaidly nod. I woulded do id for ten thousad dollars a lide.”
“Well, then, let it alone; and I hope one of those epidemic diseases will get you and lay you up for life.”
As Mr. Barker withdrew, Major Slott threw up the windows, and after catching his breath, he called down stairs to a reporter, “Perkins, follow that man and hear what he’s got to say, and then blast him in a column of the awfulest vituperation you know how to write.”
Perkins obeyed orders, and now Barker has a libel suit pending against The Patriot, while the carbolic mat has not yet been introduced to this market.
This story and hundreds of pages of other amusements may be found in Dr. Boli’s Anthology of American Humor, now available in splendid paperback or as a free PDF download. Look at the PDF, and if you think this book is exactly what your Aunt Winifred needs for Christmas, buy the paperback book.