How Uncle Sam Lost Sixty-Four Dollars
By Charles Fort
Simon Bobbles had ways of his own, so you must not be astonished at anything done by him.
Said Simon: “Ain’t I the strange feller, though! I’m that set on travelling! I’d like to be in Denver, just to say I was there. I’d like to go out to see Budd Lobe in San Francisco. I ain’t got any use for Budd and he ain’t got any for me, but I’d like to go out just to say I was there. I’d like to go to Washington. Don’t care about the Capitol and wouldn’t be bothered with the Monument; don’t care about generals and senators, but just want to say I was there.”
Simon made a discovery. Said he: “It costs money to travel!”
Simon was given to wisdom. Said he: “There’s always ways of doin’ things.” And this was his way:
The postman hastened from corner to corner, collecting mail. And there on a letter-box sat Simon Bobbles, perched comfortably, swinging his legs.
“Hey, young fellow,” said the indignant postman, “you mustn’t do your lounging there! The government ain’t in the furniture business. Do you hear?”—for Simon said nothing, but swung his legs indolently,—“You mustn’t loaf there, so take a jump for yourself.”
“But I can’t,” answered Simon. “I can’t move, and by rights I can’t talk, either. I’m mail. I’m mail. See?”
Mr. Budd Lobe,
234 Pearl Street,
San Francisco, Cal.
Upon his forehead was a postage stamp. Upon his coat was marked in huge letters the above address.
“Don’t talk nonsense,” said the impatient postman. “And you’d better not interfere with the post-office, either.” He called to a policeman.
Now, Officer O’Glory was a new policeman, and, as he had been in trouble several times because of arrests made too promptly, he was a careful officer. Not grasping the facts of the case, he approached, glancing at a little book of rules.
“I’m mail,” said the unruffled Simon. “He can take me or leave me. I’m addressed and stamped and I don’t care what he does about it.”
“Stamped!” cried the wrathful postman. “Why, he weighs at least two hundred pounds. And for that he’s got one miserable two-cent stamp on him. Officer, are you going to take this fellow?”
Officer O’Glory fluttered the pages of his book of rules. Unfortunately, the compiler had neglected to foresee such a situation.
“When in doubt, use your own judgement.” That was the only suggestion of application.
No; there was another:
“Never permit yourself to be thought at a loss.”
“I can’t touch him, if he’s mail,” declared Officer O’Glory. “You don’t get me before the Commissioner for picking parcels off the tops of letter-boxes.”
“But how far would a two-cent stamp carry him?” shouted the postman.
And Simon answered: “I ain’t supposed to talk, ’cause I’m mail, but you know that so long as there’s one stamp on anything you’ve got to take it. Wasn’t there any on me, I wouldn’t go; but so long as there’s two cents paid, you’ve got to take me for the rest to be paid at my destination.”
“Well, I’ll be registered!” cried the postman. “But Mr. Budd Lobe will be glad to see you! How are you mailing? You’re first-class postage, I suppose?”
“I’m always first-class goods,” answered Simon.
The postman calculated rapidly.
“Two cents an ounce or fraction thereof. Sixteen to the pound–two hundred pounds–sixty-four dollars! But won’t Mr. Budd Lobe be glad to see you! Come on, then”
“Carry me,” said Simon. “I’m sort of a ward o’ the government and must travel luxoorius. I’m mail, and can’t walk.”
And with many a gasp and many a groan, the postman staggered to the post-office with Simon resting comfortably on his back.
“He’s mail!” gasped the postman, falling into the office with his parcel.
“He is!” said the postmaster. “Well, he don’t go here. He’s live stock, and Uncle Sam isn’t carrying live stock. Turn him out.”
“That’ll be all right,” Simon agreed; “turn me out. I’m mail and ain’t supposed to talk, but my sender’ll sue you. There ain’t a court in the land would uphold you. You just try to classify a human bein’ as live stock and hear the kick that’ll go up. There’s the wimmen’s clubs always something frenzied to find something to kick about. You let them hear you call them and other human bein’s live stock!”
“To–to California with him!” roared the postmaster. So there was nothing to do but to accept Simon and cancel his stamp. The indignant cancellation clerk dipped his fist into indelible ink and punched the stamp on Simon’s forehead, while up and down his clothes “postage due” stamps were pasted.
Neatly done up in a sack all to himself, Simon travelled across the continent. He saw nothing of Philadelphia and nothing of Chicago.
“Don’t want to,” said Simon, “just want to say I been there. Must go to Washington, too. There’s sights there. Don’t want them; just want to say I been there.” And, having a plentiful supply of tablets secured from a vegetarian, secluded in the mail car until the brakeman cried: “San Francisco!” and another postmark was stamped on his forehead.
It was the early morning delivery. The postman went up a stoop, whistling and crying: “Lobe! Budd Lobe! Any one know Lobe?”
Budd Lobe knew Lobe, and he hastened down the stairs.
“Sixty-four dollars due!” said the postman.
“Why, if it isn’t Simon Bobbles!” cried Budd. “How are you, Simon? What on earth are you doing here? And what’s that on your forehead? What kind of stamp album are you wearing?”
Said the postman: “Sixty-four dollars, please!”
Then Budd Lobe understood.
“What? For Simon Bobbles? He ain’t worth it. Sorry, Simon, but you know you aren’t worth anything like sixty-four dollars.”
“I know it,” Simon admitted, and mumbling something about being delighted to see him, Budd ran down the stoop, and rushed around the corner, flying from so much unpaid postage.
“Well, if this isn’t a sell!” exclaimed the postman. “Now what’s to become of you?”
“Kind o’ like to see Washington,” drawled Simon. “Anyway, I’ve got to say that I’ve been to ‘Frisco.”
And with the Government at a loss of sixty-four dollars, he was forwarded to the Dead Letter Office.
A clerk rudely tore off his coat. It was the “envelope” of the “dead letter.” In a vest pocket was a card bearing the name and home address of Simon Bobbles.
They sent him home from the Dead Letter Office.
Says Simon: “There’s always ways of doin’ things. Been everywhere! Didn’t see much places, but just the same can say I was there.”