Cambridge, Mass. (Jul. 2)
It is an Ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three. By thy long gray beard and glittering eye, Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
Dr. Ernst F. S. “Putzy” Hanfstaengl, suffering from the heat and slumping under the weight of three busts which he had tried desperately but unsuccessfully to give to Harvard University, roamed a deserted campus today in a fruitless search for his proffered gifts.
A lone, perspiring figure, heavily laden with some indistinguishable but obviously oppressive burden, staggered aimlessly across the dry turf, muttering guttural imprecations to himself through cracked lips.
From a basement portal issued three shabbily dressed, elderly women, their faces drawn and furrowed with the ravages of time, poverty and toil. They were members of Harvard’s army of chambermaids.
Prodding their rheumatic legs to unaccustomed haste, they appeared to be hurrying to keep some humble appointment.
The bedraggled, unhappy-looking man ran after them and accosted the rear member of the trio with a timid tap on the shoulder.
“Glory be!” she exclaimed. “You gave me a start!” She stopped and turned around, for a better look. Her lip curled in stern disapproval.
“Hey, listen,” she said, “Can’t you read the signs? No peddlers allowed. Besides, I don’t want any of them clay statues. I can’t be wasting my money on junk like that.”
“Peddler?” The man was bewildered. “Oh, but you are mistaken! I am no peddler. I wish to Give these busts away!”
“Yea-a-a-ah!” the woman snorted derisively, “I heard that talk before. Give ’em away, huh? All I hafta do, I s’pose, is buy a few little magazines for five years or so and I get ’em for nothing. Ain’t that it?”
She turned and began to trot after her companions, who were fast disappearing in the distance.
“Hey, Clotho! Hey, Lachesis!” she screeched. “Wait for me!”
The man ran after her and rudely grasped her elbow.
“But you must listen to me!” he commanded. “I’m not a salesman.”
“Now, looka here,” the woman stormed indignantly, “if you don’t leave me alone I’ll call a cop. Go peddle your statues some place else. I’m on my way to a wedding.”
The word “wedding” seemed to strike an answering chord in the man.
“Wedding,” he said. “Ah, yes. I went to a wedding myself a few days ago. See? I still have my full dress on.”
“Yeah,” sneered the woman, “and for a man your age you oughta be ashamed. A lot of them young college squirts stays out all night some times and goes to classes the next day in clothes like that. But you oughta be too grown-up for that kinda business.”
“Please listen to me a moment,” the man pleaded. “I have more important things to discuss than weddings. I have here three very fine busts.” He bowed low, with great ceremony, and held forth the objects in a gesture of surrender. “I present them to you now, as an employee of Harvard University,” he said solemnly, a tear glistening in his eye, “to be cherished eternally by my dear Alma Mater as a gift from her distinguished son, Dr. Ernst F. S. Hanfstaengl.” He smiled coyly. “You,” he whispered, “may call me ‘Putzy’.”
The woman drew back disdainfully.
“Please don’t use language like that in front of a lady,” she said indignantly. “I’ll have you know you can’t pull that stuff on me, even if I am a biddy. Besides, how many times must I tell you I don’t want them statues. Filthy old dust collectors!” she sniffed.
The man appeared to be losing patience.
“These,” he shouted, “are Not statues! They are Busts! Have you never seen a bust?”
The woman tittered.
“Sure,” she said, “plenty of times. “I’m looking at one right now.” She stared meaningly at the man.
The great statesman and piano stroker saw his tactics were getting him nowhere. He descended at last to cajolery.
“Aw, gee, whiz,” he whined, “take these busts, will you? They don’t take up much room on a mantle piece and they come all the way from Germany.”
“Nothing doing,” the woman declared determinedly.
“Well, what can I do with them then?”
The chambermaid looked at the man with an appraising eye. Then she mentally measured the busts
“I Could,” she said slowly, “make a suggestion, but as I told you before, “I’m a lady.”
She turned then in the direction of her companions, and discovered them waiting for her some distance off, at the other end of the campus.
“Hey, Clotho! Hey, Lachesis!” she called. “Here I come now! I’m having a tough time getting rid of this guy! I hope we’re not late for that wedding.”
She ran off, refusing to heed the departing plea of the perspiring man.
“Ye gods, Atropos,” her comrades scolded when she finally caught up with them. “What kept you so long? Who is that freak, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” Atropos snickered. “He reminds me of this fellow Joe Penner on the radio. You know who I mean? The one who keeps saying, ‘Wanna buy a duck’?”
â€”A. J. B.