THE ICE PITCHER AND THE FAN

   A fan and an ice pitcher were placed on a table side by
side.  Having much the same interests and objects in life
there was every reason why they should have enjoyed a pleas-
ant chat.  The fan was the first to break a rather chilly
silence.
  "Business is rather brisk these hot days, is it not?" she
said pleasantly.
   The ice pitcher glared at her in the coldest possible man-
ner.
   "Business is always brisk with me," he replied.  "I always
have more than I care to do, I am so run after by people.
But I dare say the attention you receive these warm days is
quite a novelty to you."
   The fan looked at her neighbor in gentle suprise.
   "I do not know why you should say that," she replied
with dignity.  "I fill my sphere as well as I know how, and
receive my share of attention."
   "You are mistaken in saying that you fill your sphere," re-
torted the ice pitcher frigidly.
   "You fans were made to be ornamental; to please the
eye and enhance flirtation.  When you attempt to go into
business and cool people off, you are ridiculous.  The moment
you meddle with the vocation of the ice pitchers you upset
yourselves."
   "Why, how absurdly you talk," cried the fan quite out
of patience.  "Whoever does a thing well has the right to do
it.  It is only those who do a thing badly who are out of
their sphere.  A good fan is better than a cracked ice
pitcher."
   "Who said I was cracked?" yelled the pitcher, getting
angry.  "No one--I am using a simile only," replied the fan,
"and I fail to understand why you wish to antagonize me.
You pitchers used to scoff at the uselessness and frivolity of
fans.  Now that we are trying to be useful you abuse us.
You are not logical."
   "Ha! ha! a fan talking about logic; well that is a good
joke," jeered the ice pitcher with a loud laugh.
   "But laughing and joking is no argument," persisted the
fan.  "Why do you not defend your position and explain
your curious attitude."
   "It is not worth an ice pitcher's valuable time to explain
himself to a fan," was the insolent reply.  "She could not
understand after he had explained. You are out of your
sphere and that's all there is of it.  You are trying to do
what you can't do."
   "I succeed very well in what I attempt, on the contrary,"
replied the fan.  "I make people cool on a hot day without
ruining their digestion as you do.  The entrance of fans into
business will have a wholesome and healthful effect on the
human family, say what you will."
   Just then two gentlemen entered the room and approached
the table.  One of them placed his hand upon the ice pitcher.
"Let us cool off with a good glass of ice water," he said.
"I am fairly broiling."
   His friend arrested him.  "Don't touch that villainous
stuff," he cried.  "Ice water is the most ruinous liquid ever
taken into the human system.  It paralyzes the vital organs
for the time being, arrests digestion, and creates dyspepsia
of the worst kind.  If you are thirsty, drink cool water, but
let the ice pitcher alone and cool off with this fan.  Manipu-
late it with the wrist only--not using the arm--and you will
soon feel comfortable."
   The ice pitcher listened to this conversation and broke out
in a cold perspiration of impotent rage, while the gentle fan
moved to and fro with a pleasant smile on her face.

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


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