"WILL you go to the opera?" asked my chum. "No; it is too expensive," said I. "Well, then, come along, and I'll show you an exhibition that has just opened; cheap as dirt." So saying, he pulled me out of the room. We walked along till we reached a spacious building which had bulletins posted up: "The Carnival of Electives, admission $1.00. Soft Electives in the Gallery." I entered, and saw booths arranged along both sides of a huge hall. There was one representing a Greek house; within were seen various groups in Greek costume; in one corner Homer addressing a band of chosen heroes; in another sat Ulysses with his dog; while Xenophon was telling his dream to a few half-starved soldiers. In the centre, the three great writers of Greek tragedy had joined hands in a mystic choral dance, while Aristophanes stood at one side, making faces at them.
The adjoining booth was built entirely of plus and minus signs, and within, a series of tableaux illustrated Differential Calculus and the Binomial Theorem. The architecture of the next booth was very severe in style, and loud voices were heard from within, as if an animated discussion were being carried on. The word "Philosophy" was painted in large letters above the door, and a conspicuous sign on one side read as follows: "Conclusive proof given that two and two do not make four! Price only five cents! Many other popular fallacies refuted at equally low rates!" I noticed one peculiarity about this booth. It was higher than the rest, and had an upper story in the gallery. This upper story I found was devoted to Ethics, and seemed to attract greater crowds than the lower part of the booth.
On the other side of the hall were several booths whose fair exteriors seemed to attract many visitors; but I saw many who came out of the booths with sad and troubled looks, and who wore great O's on their foreheads. A strong feeling of sympathy seemed to draw them together; they called themselves the Army of the Conditioned, and preached a crusade against hypocrisy. I did not spend much time here. I only noticed that some of these booths were devoted to Natural History, and several to English and other modern languages.
These sights filled me with horror and disgust, and I hastened to the gallery. What a change! An air of comfort pervaded everything. No more care-worn faces to be seen, but everywhere happiness and ease! Here I found a great crowd who were eager to enter the booth devoted to Art. Many were turned away and could only peer in, and see their more fortunate friends reclining on divans and feasting their eyes on the pictures and statuary which surrounded them. Close by were two booths where one could be taught to imitate the Italians and Spaniards in their love of leisure and ease, and in their neglect of the more sober realities of life. There were two other booths in the gallery which attracted great crowds. One had this placard above the door: "New Course in Chinese and Japanese Antiquities"; the other, "Course in Oriental Life." From the latter booth delicious odors were exhaled, mingled with the fumes of Turkish tobacco.
At this point my chum became uneasy. "Come along, old man," said he, "this carnival has given me some ideas about my electives." He led me out of the hall, and when we got home at once made out his elective list for next year, determined to profit by what he had seen.