A QUARREL AMONG THE BOOKS
Novel.  "My fame is universal and everybody is talking
about me."
  "But you are a mere passing fancy of the hour," replied a
French Reader.  "Next year at this time you will be for-
gotten.  Now, I, on the contrary, shall always be in vogue.
Polite society makes a great deal of me."
  "Superficial society you mean," said an Ancient History
with a sneer.  "People of solid worth and real culture look
over your head at me.  I date back farther than any of you.
I tell of times and people you modern books know nothing
about."
  "I could make your heads swim in five minutes if I gave
you one of my problems to solve," said a Higher Algebra
loftily.
  "I am quoted more than any of you," spoke up a Volume
of Poems.  "All sorts of people care for me.  Orators, lovers,
school children and clergymen quote from my pages, and I
comfort many tired hearts with my sayings.  No prose book
need talk of popularity where I am."
  "Yet, you are all mere rudimental works when compared
with me," said a pompous Volume of Philosophy.  "I alone get
at the truths of life and furnish food for serious reflection."
  Just then a gentle, timid voice spoke up from the corner of
the shelf.
  "I do not wish to vaunt my worth above my neighbor,"
it said, "but I think I give more comfort and peace to tired
hearts than any of you.  It is not I who do it, but the voice
of the Master speaking through me."
  It was a Book of Psalms which said these words, and they
seemed to act like fuel on flame, for the Psalm Book had
scarcely ceased when a large Scientific Volume cried out:
  "Oh, pshaw!  You belong to past ages, not one of you is
of the least value nowadays.  Science, and science alone
counts--the world is beginning to find out that.  I"--but
the big Scientific Book spread its covers so in gesticulating,
and elbowed the other book so rudely, that it burst open the
clasp on the glass door, and out they all tumbled in an igno-
minious and undignified heap on the floor, with the exception
of the little Psalm Book on one side and Webster's Una-
bridged Dictionary on the other.
  "What a foolish fuss," remarked the Dictionary to its com-
panion.  "They do not seem to realize that all they know they
borrow from me.  Every letter and sign they contain can be
found in my pages."
  Just then the master of the house came in and seeing the
books on the floor, exclaimed, "Well, there!  I must get a
new clasp for that bookcase door.  It has seemed weak for
some time."
  But he never dreamed that the accident was caused by the
quarrelsome books, and the good-natured Dictionary and
gentle Psalm Book never told him.

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


Back to Poem Index