"Ah! it's you, old boy? Well, just sit down on yourself anywhere, and make yourself homely. If you want something to read, you'll find a copy of Watts's Ballads behind the washstand. Or, if you want something of a religious character, you'll find the last number of my little sheet hanging on the chandelier. You'd better take it and read the 'Familiar Conversions.' They'll enthuse you, my boy. They're taking the world by storm. That's only the third one in that number; there are thirty-nine still to come: The conversion of the Goodie and the Poco; the conversion of the Goodie's aunt and the Poco's grandson, and a great many more. I flatter my -"
"What are you reading there?" interruptingly inquired the Ibex, as he toyed furtively with the razor-strop hanging from his scarf-pin.
"Well, I'll tell you," replied the Lamprey, picking up the papers that had fallen from his sleeve to the floor. "The Rev. Dr. Bonfire Burnham was just in to see me, and he told me that he feared my piety was growing lukewarm. I had lost the pristine unction. He pointed his eye right at me and said, 'Lamprey, with grief I have noticed in the last two issues of your little publication that your front cover, hitherto your redeeming feature, Lamprey, has displayed in its printed matter a latitude most unprecedented, and an obliquity never before attempted by decorous journalism.'
"Worst of it was, my Ibex, I knew it was so, and I've been feeling quite badly about it. So I thought I'd do penance by reading our worthy contemp -"
"Contemptibles," pensively suggested the Ibex, as he sadly slipped a small package of tooth-powder in his rubber boot.
"That was n't just the word I wanted, but I guess 't will do. And by the way, Ibex, - there's nothing mean about me, I'll read them to you."
The Ibex crouched low behind the chandelier, adjusted his lung-protector, and replied, while a tear coursed down his cheek, "Easy, please, and a little at a time."
Lamprey smiled, and, taking up a small, apparently harmless paper, he began: -
"'The Harford Daily Cabalist. Dedicated to Economy, Respectability, and Weather Reports.
"'Thermometer at Hubbard's yesterday, 8 M., 95; 12 A. M., 82; 6 P. M., 103. The record of the thermometer is changed three times a year by permission of the Pauline Society. Whether report: The whinds will be south-northerly by east. The stationary will be falling or even perhaps.
"'The accuracy of everything printed in the Cabalist can be vouched for with perfect safety, as nothing is put in our columns which has not first received the approval of the Faculty and Board of Overseerers assembled in their regular biennial meeting. This insures respectability.'
"Here, Ibex, is a five-column editorial."
"Just wait till I get settled," whispered the quadruped, as he curled himself cosily in the coal-shovel.
The Lamprey recommenced his reading: -
"It is a weeping shame and should mst certainly be a matter of college discipline. We are greaved and shocked that there are still some men in the University who persist in appearing on the street without lavender-topped gaiters. The college owes it -"
"Never mind about that," quoth the Ibex. "I know what the college owes. It's $35,000; but the janitor of Mathoose says he'll make that all right."
"Well," replied the Lamprey, "here are some items.
"'The Cabalist does knot like to appear premature in its statesments, but it seems quite safe to announce that the annular boat raee with Yale rowed on the 2nd of July, resulted in a victory for the blew.
"'Mr. Slugger has been elected captain of the team. - News.
"'The summer vacation has went off pretty well, and now we have got back to our work.
"'It is rumored that the faculty is considering the feasibility of passing a law obliging underclassmen to remove their hats during chapel exorcises. But the President denies the report. - news.
"'Mr. roper and Mr. Sykes Are straining For The crew. They average 600 pounds, and measure 42 inches around the wrist. These dimensions seems absorbed perhaps, but they are.
"'There has been some misunderstanding about one or two items in yesterday's issue which we forget to credit to the News. To avoid all future mistakes, we wish it distinctly understood that hereafter when we print any item not taken from the News we will distinctly say so.'"
The Ibex moved towards the door. "Oh, wait! let me read you some out of this," said the Lamprey, holding up a small but formidable pamphlet.
"What, the Aberrate!" exclaimed the Ibex, catching a glance of the cover. "Oh! book of weird fatality! pray read it not! It's robbed our home of two sweet brothers. Had not it been, they had; but as it is, they are not."
"'T was thus. One of them was my aunt, and as she was walking along, she saw a crowd of boys, and she stopped to see what they were looking at; and it was a large piece of paper, and it said: -
and a great deal more in the same language; and one boy said it was Ponca, and meant that Mr. Wendell Parnell would discuss the Irish question in Holden basement. Another said it had just come over from Assos, and was a Christmas card designed by Agamemnon. But whatever it was, my aunt swooned at the sight and was carried to the college hospital, where, surrounded by luxury and a circle of happy friends, she died."
"How about the other brother?"
"Well, he went at 4 1/2 P.M. and got the Aberrate, and came home and sat down and began to read it; and pretty soon his hair stood up on both ends, and turned gray; his eyes started from his head and only hung by the stems, and before I could save him he had fallen into the fire and was consumed."
"What was he reading?" inquired the Lamprey.
"Oh! it was an awful, fiendful tale. I shudder to repeat it, yet I will: -
"'There were two fellows, Jack and another fellow, who went out to take a walk, and they came to a house, and they went in, and there was a woman who had a husband and a newspaper, and they sat down -'"
"Desist, I pray thee! If thou lov'st me, cease," cried the Lamprey, as he leaped terror-stricken from his chair. "Me frozen marrow creeps backwards in me veins! Oh! awfullest agony of horror, now I know thee!" and, leaving him there crouched in delirious frenzy behind a Tabular View, the Ibex gracefully poised his wings and circled towards Carl's.