THE BOASTFUL TUBE

    An electric light tube was placed in a large dining-room
close beside a gas jet.  The tube shot forth a glare of light,
but the gas jet was sombre and dark.
    "I fail to see why you are allowed to stay here," said the
electric light tube haughtily.  "You are neither useful nor or-
namental."
    "I suppose there must be something for me to do or I
would be removed," replied the gas jet quietly.
    "But you can see for yourself there is nothing for you to
do," sneered the tube.  "I furnish all the light necessary,
and you are not noticed at all.  It must be terrible to feel
yourself so out of date as you are."
    "I do not feel myself out of date," responded the gas jet
with some spirit.  "There is room enough, and use enough
for both of us in the world.  There are people who prefer
me, while others prefer you."
    "I would like to know who prefers you!" cried the electric
tube.  "Name one, if you can."
    "Well, the ladies as a rule," responded the gas jet pleas-
antly.  "They say I am more becoming than you--that you
coarsen their complexions and exaggerate personal defects,
while I soften and beautify with my gentler radiance."
    The electric tube gave a shout of derisive laughter.  "Oh!
that is a great thing to be proud of, I must say," it cried.
"You ought to be ashamed of having no higher mission than
to flatter the vanity of silly women.  If ladies prefer you to
me it shows queer taste; your breath alone is enough to drive
all refined people away from you!  and everybody knows
there is death in it, if you breathe too near them."
    "Well, you have little to say about death," retorted the
gas jet, becoming irritated with this uncalled-for abuse.
"Why the very name of electricity is synonymous with
death.  The poor men who are your servants you slay while
they work for you, and now you have been made to take the
lowest and most brutal of offices--that of public executioner.
That shows how people regard you."
    This set the electric light tube fairly quivering with rage,
and like all coarse and vulgar creatures it became merely
abusive when angry.  It cried out, "Oh! you miserable insig-
nificant, bad-smelling, little nobody! I will have you removed
before another day passes--I will not submit to such society
as yours, I--"  Just then there was a flare and a quiver and
the electric light was quenched in darkness.  A servant
quickly turned on the gas.
    As its mellow radiance streamed over the table, the elec-
tric tube nearly burst itself with rage when it heard a lady
say, "Oh what a relief to have that glaring electric light put
out.  It is only fit for street use.  I like the gas so much
better."  "And it is so much more reliable," said another.
"You can always depend on the gas, while the electric light
goes out when you least expect."

The Beautiful Land of Nod by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: Morrill, Higgins & Co. [1892]


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