Once there was a staid and well-behaving Citizen who took home a dab of Steak, wrapped up in Brown Paper, nearly every Evening, and found his excitement by working on the Puzzle Column in the Church Paper.
In order to run out to his Farm and save the Expense of keeping a Gee-Gee, he purchased a kind of Highway Beetle, known as a Runabout. It was a One-Lunger with a Wheel Base of nearly 28 inches and two Coal Oil Gleamers.
When standing still, it panted like a Dachshund and breathed Blue Smoke through the Gills.
It steered with a Rudder, the same as a Canal Boat, and every time it started up a 4 per cent Grade it became Black in the Face and tried to lie down.
All the large brutal-looking Cars with the swollen Wheels came along and tried to Ditch him. They showed him the same courteous consideration that would be lavished upon a Colored Republican Orator in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When he pulled up alongside of the Road to adjust the Buzzer and jiggle the Feed and clean the Plug, the idle Spectators would stand around and remark that the mixture was wrong and the Ignition was a Punk and the Transmission was a Fliv. So he knew he was In Wrong.
He traded for a dashing 2-Cylinder Affair painted Red, with a Tonneau as wide and roomy as a Telephone Booth, and approached from the extreme Rear by a small Door, as in the case of a Blind Pig.
When he turned in the Runabout, he was allowed one Outer Casing and a Monkey-wrench in Exchange. He was Some Motorist for about Three Weeks after the delivery of Juggernaut Number Two. He wore Leather Clothes, the same as Barney Oldfield.
But when he bumped up against the Owners of the Big Touring Cars he was just as much at home as a One-armed Man at a Husking Bee.
He began to discover that in the Gasoline Set a Man is rated by the number of Cylinders he carries.
At the beginning of the Third Season we find him steering a long, low, rakish Chariot of Fire, with a Clock, a Trunk-Rack, an Emergency Ice-Box and all the other Comforts of Home. He had learned to smell a Constable a Mile off and whenever he ran up behind a Pewee Coffee-Grinder he went into the High and made the Cheap Machine look like a Fish.
Whenever the Bobbler pointed to anything short of 40 he felt that he was just the same as standing still. He loved to throw open the Muffler and hit the High Spots, never stopping until the Wheels became clogged up with Live Stock and Poultry.
One day while he was breezing along the Pike at the easy Clip usually maintained by the Twentieth Century Limited, he heard behind him a low and sullen Roar, as of the Wind playing through 1,000 Pine Trees, and something Gray and about as long-waisted as a Torpedo Boat shot past him and went over the Hill. He fell forward on the Wheel and began to Weep.
He had been Shown Up.
He knew that he could never look his Fellow-Man in the Eye until he traded in and got a Six with enough Power to jump Small Streams and Climb Trees.
At last he appeared on the Road with the Real Thing. It had Armor Plate all over it and a 10-foot Cow Catcher in front, and the Driver had to sit on the Small of his Back and wear a Helmet.
The Morning he ran it out of the Garage a Prominent Insurance Company foreclosed on the Farm, but he was in a cheery Mood, for he knew he could cut Rings around any other Balloon in the County.
One Morning he went around a Curve on Two Wheels and tried to dislodge a New Bridge turned out by the Steel Trust and imbedded in solid Concrete.
A Neighbor went to the Widow and said: “I have Sad News for you. Your Husband has gone to his Reward.”
“When did he start?” asked the Bereaved Woman.
“At Ten Thirty-Eight,” was the Reply.
“What Time is it Now?”
“It lacks Four Minutes of being Eleven o’Clock.”
“Well,” she remarked, in a Relieved Tone, “He must be There by this Time, unless he has had a Puncture.”
Moral: The Cocaine and Morphine Habits can be Cured.
The Progressive Maniac – Knocking the Neighbors