In the old days the slaughterhouses used to boast that every part of a pig was utilized except his squeal and his personality. Nowadays, the jazz bands are using the squeal and Ellis Parker Butler has capitalized on the personality.
I'm glad that it is possible to reproduce Mr. Butler's favorite story in his own words -- a splendid example of his genius in writing humor:
"A friend of mine here in Flushing, Charles H. Roberts, the man with whom I most often go fishing, had a father who was one of the dearest old men that the sun ever shone upon. When I knew him he was a man of 80, white-haired, pink-skinned and loved by all. He was a Congregational minister and preached almost to his last day. He told me this story:
"It seemed that at one time in his ministerial career he occupied a pulpit at Jacksonville, Ill., where the Illinois Southern Insane Asylum was located, and each Sunday one or another of the ministers of Jacksonville used to go out to the insane asylum in the afternoon and preach in the chapel.
"Dr. Roberts used to explain to people that there is a lot of misapprehension regarding insane asylums. All of the persons confined in them are not madly insane. Some are never violent. In fact, he said, there were always great numbers in that asylum who were not violent at any moment and when these were gathered in the chapel they sat quietly and behaved well. Indeed, he used to say that looking out over the gathering in the chapel, the congregation there did not appear any different from his regular congregation.
"One Sunday afternoon he drove out to the insane asylum to deliver a sermon. He turned into the rectangle formed by the buildings, tied his horse to the rail, got out of his buggy and went in and preached. It happened to be 'missionary' Sunday at his Church so he preached the same sermon he had preached that morning, a sermon on the missions to India.
"The insane congregation listened to him with the utmost attention -- seemed to hang on to every word with intense interest. He told them of the missions to India, of how awful were the conditions the missionaries found there -- particularly what a hideous thing the Hindu religion led to in the matter of babies.
"He told them how the poor, misguided Hindu mothers, following a horrible but immemorial custom, used to take their poor little babies down to the edge of the Ganges River and throw -- actually throw -- the poor little helpless things into the river to be eaten by the crocodiles. Thousands and thousands of babies were fed to the crocodiles by those poor ignorant mothers. They did not know they were doing wrong; they thought they were doing a holy thing, because the Ganges River was a sacred river, and the crocodiles in the Ganges River were sacred crocodiles, and throwing the poor little babies to the crocodiles in the Ganges River was the shortest and best way to insure everlasting bliss for the babies and for the mothers to acquire merit. It was horrible ... horrible.
"Then he told of the work the missionaries had done. He told how they had worked to convince the mothers that throwing their babies to the crocodiles was a sin, and how the missionaries had persuaded the Government to pass a law against throwing babies to the crocodiles in the Ganges River, and made it a crime as well as a sin, and that no more babies were thrown to the crocodiles in the Ganges River.
"Dr. Roberts said that he never had an audience pay such close attention to his words; they hardly breathed while he talked, and when he was through dozens of the poor insane inmates crowded up to the pulpit and asked him about the missionaries, and about India, and some of them even asked him what they could do to help the missionaries in India. Think of that! Those poor creatures shut up there in an insane asylum actually asking what they could do to help those missionaries in far-off India!
"So Dr. Roberts said he went out of the chapel with his heart swelling with happiness. If he never had done any good in the world before he certainly had stirred those poor hearts that afternoon. He went out and climbed into the buggy, his heart full of gratitude that he had been able to perform such a good work.
"He was just about to slap the reins on the back of his horse, when in the third story of one of the buildings a window went up and a voice called down to him: 'Dr. Roberts! Oh, Dr. Roberts!'
"The good kind man lifted his sweet placid face to the window and there, behind the bars, he saw a face looking down at him.
"'Yes,' he called up to the face behind the bars, 'What is it?'
"'It's a damn shame your mother didn't throw you in the Ganges River!'"