Ambrose Bierce ~ The Thistles upon the Grave and other Fables

belle-epoque-y

The Thistles upon the Grave

A Mind Reader made a wager that he would be buried alive and remain so for six months, then be dug up alive.  In order to secure the grave against secret disturbance, it was sown with thistles.  At the end of three months, the Mind Reader lost his money.  He had come up to eat the thistles.

 

The Literary Astronomer

The Director of an Observatory, who, with a thirty-six-inch refractor, had discovered the moon, hastened to an Editor, with a four-column account of the event.

“How much?” said the Editor, sententiously, without looking up from his essay on the circularity of the political horizon.

“One hundred and sixty dollars,” replied the man who had discovered the moon.

“Not half enough,” was the Editor’s comment.

“Generous man!” cried the Astronomer, glowing with warm and elevated sentiments, “pay me, then, what you will.”

“Great and good friend,” said the Editor, blandly, looking up from his work, “we are far asunder, it seems.  The paying is to be done by you.”

The Director of the Observatory gathered up the manuscript and went away, explaining that it needed correction; he had neglected to dot an m.

 

The Australian Grasshopper

A Distinguished Naturalist was travelling in Australia, when he saw a Kangaroo in session and flung a stone at it.  The Kangaroo immediately adjourned, tracing against the sunset sky a parabolic curve spanning seven provinces, and evanished below the horizon.  The Distinguished Naturalist looked interested, but said nothing for an hour; then he said to his native Guide:

“You have pretty wide meadows here, I suppose?”

“No, not very wide,” the Guide answered; “about the same as in England and America.”

After another long silence the Distinguished Naturalist said:

“The hay which we shall purchase for our horses this evening—I shall expect to find the stalks about fifty feet long.  Am I right?”

“Why, no,” said the Guide; “a foot or two is about the usual length of our hay.  What can you be thinking of?”

The Distinguished Naturalist made no immediate reply, but later, as in the shades of night they journeyed through the desolate vastness of the Great Lone Land, he broke the silence:

“I was thinking,” he said, “of the uncommon magnitude of that grasshopper.”

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