Friday, November 30, 2012

Ashley Sterne A Fable

I found this fable by Ashley Sterne in a trade magazine called the Chemist and Druggist, Volume 96, June 24th 1922.  The capitalizing is reminiscent of George Ade's fables.


The King who Put Two, and the Prince who Took One

By Ashley Sterne

THERE once lived a widowed KING – he had lost the QUEEN in a TRAM – who had two DAUGHTERS, one PLAIN, the other COLOURED.  The plain one (Ethel) was so DREADFULLY plain, poor thing, that you might have mistaken her for a VEGETABLE marrow; but the coloured one (GERTIE) was so distractingly beautiful that all the RAILWAY companies used to run SPECIAL Excursion trains three times a week for the folks to come and look at her.

Now the KING was very proud of GERTIE, and was most anxious for her to contract a RICH and NOURISHING MARRIAGE, partly because it's customary for BEAUTY to marry into the SUPER-TAX, and partly because he was deucedly hard up – most of the CROWN JEWELS being at Attenborough's, and the ROYAL PALACE mortgaged up to the last brick.  But he had a horrible grouch on ETHEL, and didn't care a row of beans whether she married or entered a MONASTERY.  He never hoped to get HER married, not even by paying a heavy underwriting commission!

Now it happened that a very WEALTHY (and hence desirable) PRINCE of an adjacent COUNTRY (first country on the left past the BUTCHER'S, to be precise) was looking for someone to do the housekeeping and count the washing, and learning that the KING owned a brace of unclicked daughters he decided to call one day and inspect the GOODS.

But you must know that though GERTIE was so BEAUTIFUL, she was nevertheless very careless about her PERSONAL Appearance.  Frequently she had her JUMPER on back to front, her skirt hitched up with a safety-pin, and a loose tape hanging out of her placket-hole; while sometimes she had LADDERS in both stockings simultaneously.  Therefore, when she heard that the PRINCE had called (object, matrimony) and was waiting to see her in the Throne Room, you will not be surprised that she made no attempt to UPHOLSTER herself more neatly.

"My BEAUTY will be sufficient excitement for him for one afternoon," she quothed.  "It isn't as if I had any COMPETITION to fear from poor, plain Ethel."  And a Hollow Laugh laughed she.

But ETHEL, when she heard of the Prince's arrival, at once put a new PERMANENT WAVE in her hair, ran a PINK ribbon through her CAMISOLE, got into a bobbed skirt which showed her SILK STOCKINGS right up to – well, up to the best advantage, and finally put on one of those MILK-AND-ROSES COMPLEXIONS which you buy by the bottle.

"THESE," said the King, as the two girls entered the room together, are my two DAUGHTERS – not, as you might imagine, one DAUGHTER and one performing MELON.  The beautiful one is GERTIE, the ug– , I mean, the other one, is ETHEL."

The PRINCE bowed low, but it was a long time before he resumed the PERPENDICULAR.  He was admiring Ethel's NATTY shoes, her NICE silk stockings, and her DAINTY bobbed skirt.  When at last he lifted his HEAD, he took but the BRIEFEST GLANCE at GERTIE who was wearing the same JUMPER which she had dropped a poached egg on at breakfast that morning.

"I've chosen, KING," said the PRINCE, promptly.  "I'll have the ATTRACTIVE one!" and he advanced and took ETHEL by the hand.

As for GERTIE, she fell into a SWOON, and the KING fell into the COAL-BOX.



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