THE SHIRT COLLAR
THERE was once a handsome gentleman whose whole effects consisted of a Bootjack and a hair-comb,but he had the finest Shirt Collar in the world, and about this Shirt Collar we will tell a story.
The Collar was now old enough to think of marrying,and it happened that he was sent to the wash together with a Garter.
“My word! exclaimed the Shirt Collar.“I have never seen anything so slender and delicate, so charming and genteel. May I ask your name?”
“I shall not tell you that,”said the Garter.
“Where is your home?”asked the Shirt Collar.
But the Garter was of rather a modest disposition,and it seemed such a strange question to answer.
“I presume you are a girdle?”said the Shirt Collar----“a sort of under girdle? I see that you are useful as well as ornamental,my little lady.”
“You are not to speak to me,”said the Garter.“I have not, I think, given you any occasion to do so.”
“Oh! when one is as beautiful as you are, ”cried the Shirt Collar,“that is occasion enough.”
“Go!”said the Garter;“don't come so near me:you look to me quite like a man.”
“I am a fine gentleman,too,”said the Shirt Collar.“I possess a bootjack and a hair-comb.”
And that was not true at all, for it was his master who owned these things, but he was boasting.
“Don't come too near me,”said the Garter;“I'm not used to that.”
“Affectation!”cried the Shirt Collar.
And then they were taken out of the wash, and starched, and hung over a chair in the sunshine, and then laid on the ironing-board; and now came the hot Iron.
“Mrs. Widow!”said the Shirt Collar,“little Mrs.Widow, I'm getting quite warm; I'm being quite changed; I'm losing all my creases; you're burning a hole in me! Ugh! I propose to you.”
“You old rag!”said the Iron, and rode proudly over the Shirt Collar, for it imagined that it was a steam boiler, and that it ought to be out on the railway, dragging carriages. “You old rag!”said the Iron,
The Shirt Collar was a little frayed at the edges,therefore the Paper Scissors came to smooth away the frayed places.
“Ho, ho!”said the Shirt Collar;“I presume you are a first-rate dancer. How you can point your toes! No one in the world can do that like you.”
“I know that,”said the Scissors.
“You deserve to be a countess,”said the Shirt Collar.“All that I possess consists of a fine gentleman,a bootjack, and a comb. If I had only an estate!”
“What! Do you want to marry?”cried the Scissors;and they were angry, and gave such a deep cut that the Collar had to be cashiered.
“I shall have to propose to the Hair-comb,”thought the Shirt Collar.“It is wonderful how well you keep all your teeth, my little lady. Have you never thought of engaging yourself?”
“Yes,you can easily imagine that,”replied the Haircomb.“I am engaged to the Bootjack.”
“Engaged!”cried the Shirt Collar.
Now there was no one left to whom he could offer himself, and so he despised love-making.
A long time passed, and the Shirt Collar was put into the sack of a paper-miller. There was a terribly ragged company, and the fine ones kept to themselves, and the coarse ones to themselves, as is right. They all had much to tell, but the Shirt Collar had most of all, for he was a terrible Jack Brag.
“I have had a tremendous number of sweethearts,”said the Shirt Collar.“They would not leave me alone; but I was a fine gentleman,a starched one. I had a boot-jack and a hair-comb that I never used: you should only have seen me then, when I was turned down. I shall never forget my first love; it was a girdle; and how delicate, how charming, how genteel it was! And my first love threw herself into a washing-tub, and all for we! There was also a widow who became quite glowing, but I let her stand alone till she turned quite black. Then there was a dancer who gave me the wound from which I still suffer----she was very hot-tempered. My own hair-comb was in love with me, and lost all her teeth from neglected love. Yes, I've had many experiences of this kind; but I am most sorry for the Garter----I mean for the girdle, that jumped into the wash-tub for love of me. I've a great deal on my conscience.It's time I was turned into white paper.”
And to that the Shirt Collar came. All the rags were turned into white paper,but the Shirt Collar became the very piece of paper we see here, and upon which this story has been printed, and that was done because he boasted so dreadfully about things that were not at all true.And this we must remember, so that we man on no account do the same, for we cannot know at all whether we shall not be put into the rag bag and manufactured into white paper, on which our whole history, even the most secret, shall be printed, so that we shall be obliged to run about and tell it, as the Shirt Collar did.