WARNING!The ensuing work is a serious attempt to while away an idle hour. The best criticism that the author received of "Her Ladyship's Elephant" was from an old lady who wrote him that it had made her forget a toothache; the most discouraging, from a critic who approached the book as serious literature and treated it according to the standards of the higher criticism.The author takes this occasion to state that he has never been guilty of writing literature, serious or otherwise, and that if any one considers this book a fit subject for the application of the higher criticism, he will treat it as a just ground for an action for libel.If the minimum opus possesses an intrinsic value, it lies in the explanation of the whereabouts of a Spanish gunboat, which, during our late unpleasantness with Spain, the yellow journalists insisted was patrolling the English Channel, in spite of the fact that the U. S. Board of Strategy knew that every available ship belonging to that nation was better employed somewhere else.Should this exposÚ ruffle another English see, so much the worse for the Bishop.
inkerton's force for habitual drunkenness," interjected his subordinate.
"Just so," said the editor, "and anxious to get a job in consequence. He'll be only too glad to run the whole show for us. The city shall be watched, and the first time 'The Purple Kangaroo' is used in a suspicious sense we'll arrest the offenders, discover the plot, and the Daily Leader, as the defender of the nation and the people's bulwark, will increase its circulation a hundred thousand copies! It makes me dizzy to think of it! I tell you what it is, Marchmont, that subeditorship is still vacant, and if you put this through, the place is yours."
The reporter grasped his chief's hand.
"That's white of you, boss," he said, "and I'll do it no matter what it costs or who gets hurt in the process."
"Right you are!" cried his employer. "The man who edits this paper has got to hustle. Now don't let the grass grow under your feet, and we'll have a drink to celebrate."
When the chief offers to set
Sillier but not as funny as Wells' earlier "Her Ladyship's Elephant," this comic novel, published in 1900, is set during the Spanish-American War of 1898. A young author, feeling that war news has interfered with publicity for his new novel, "The Purple Kangaroo," hires some out-of-work actors to talk it up. Meanwhile, spies for Spain decide that the obscure book's unique title makes a perfect password.
Unfortunately, their plot is overheard by an ambitious journalist, who writes it up, and one of the troupe, a pretty young actress, is mistakenly arrested as a spy. The author and company rescue her by stealing a paddy wagon, which leads to a series of unlikely adventures while they try to stay ahead of the authorities and the none-too-scrupulous newspaperman, who are convinced they're all part of a Spanish plot.
As a little light reading, this is fine, but don't expect P.G. Wodehouse.