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'j---THE CHRONICLES OF CARTOONIA

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'j- THE CHRONICLES OF CARTOONIA BY JOHN BBIND. (Author of "Household Sketches," "Marmon Hall," ''Short History of Bedwellty Church," etc., etc.) CHRONICLE THE FOTTBTH. The Kingdom of Cartoonia one's paid the penalty of a riotous generosity to her subject, that was felt for some years after, and well- nigh CKppled her status and commercial influ ence among the nations of tho world. Follow- ing an unusual era of prosperity to the nation and the rapid development of her natural re- sources, the people took it into their heads to provide for the future in a manner that utteriy miscalculated the chances of re action in trade and the international perplexities and difficul- ties that often unexpectedly develope them- selves in the course of progress, and when one the nation arose to a sudden note of alarm caused by a certain action on the part of the rival nation of Teutonia, 'the feeling of confidenca and defiance that first displayed it- self soon evaporated into a sudden panic of dis may. During- its term of prosperity, the poli- tical parties of the day had come to the resolu- tion of eliminating- poverty and distress from the face of the country by granting concessions to the labour cLas-ves to an unlimited extent. Pensions for the middle-aged, free housing, free education, free hospitals, fre-e food, and pretty nigh free everything had been granted galore to the masses, the result that a new phase of independence grew up among them. which the Representative of the Fourth Estate curtly termed in one of his addresses "hypertrop.:c inertia," and unfeelingly proclaimed that the time would come when drastic developments would happen that would rouse them to a new sense of security, or land them in the olden sense of individual responsibility for existence. The development did come, and like a bolt from the blue, in the form of an intimation accompanied by a mail-fisted display from King Grar.doea that unless Cartoonia granted a cer- tain concession to Teutonia, a display of inter- national fireworks would follow. The people at first, as I said, rose up in wrath and defiance, but soon sat down in a more complacent if ea-sv attitude when the Minister of the Public Purse gave nofece that in order to meet the national exigency, further taxation would be necessary, and would be gTateful to the coun- try if it could teU him where he could lay hb predatory hands for that purpose as he had prettv well taxed everything under the sun for its personal benefit. Every recipient from the State coffers instantly became clamorous in his or her device to furnish the Minister with the means of increasing the national revenue so long as it did not touch their own State re- sources. and the Hypatians, a new order of women who sought to own equal rights with men and superior stata to everything in the universe, instantly headed a deputation to the Minister suggesting that all bachelors over the age of twenty one should be taxed. The bache- lors retorted that they would willingly pay, as it would be infinitely cheaper to pay a tax than keep a wife, but added, as the Hypatians sought equal right? with men, they should also bear equal responsibilities, and insisted that if such a tax came in force, they also should pay. The Hypa.tians considered this as an insult added to injury, and in a very short time a desperate feud occurred between the parties that caused a deplorable dearth of marriages for some time. Animals of all kinds were suggested as tax- able means of revenue, with a grading rate from mice to rhinoceroses, with the result that an epidemic suddenly spread among them at a surprising rate, and the guardians of the peace had much ado to clear the land of carcases. The devices, in fact, to aid the Minister of the Public Purse in his endeavours to secure an in- creased revenue were multifarious and bewil- dering, the more so as every attempt to pro- cure a source for taxation was followed by a sad diminution of that source. When it was understood that the Society of Eeculapiang had deputised the Minister with the suggestion of a tax on the soore of health, and that all per- sons free from any disease or ailment should pay a special tax, the hospitals filled rapidly while deplorable exhibitions of physical incom- petents flooded every street, making the coun- try look as if it had suddenly disgorged all it? churchyards and cemeteries in preparation for the day of resurrection. Altogether the country was growing so alarm- ed and chaotic amid the contentious and dis- tracting elements of surmises and plans pro- posed to relieve the national depression, that King Affabel the Just, who himself had ser- ious doubts as to his forthcoming quarterly al- lowance, and was contemplating a mortgage of the Royal jewels with a Royal uncle in the next street, resolved to call his ministers in solemn conclave and difcuss the state of aNairs with a view to relieve the national tension. The King awaited hi3 ministers in a. royal ant3- room. Though not exactly doing what the King in the nursery rhyme is supposed to be doing, counting his money, he nevertheless was jingling a few stray coins in his Royal pocket, with the look of a. man quite beyond the i. bilitv of extravagant expenditure, and was looking rather dolefully at his jewelled meer- schaum as if contemplating temporary eepara tion from it in company with his other Royal securities. "The Ministers of State await your Majesty's pleasure," announced the Royal Chamberlain, and the King arose and proceeded to the Royal audience chamber. The King cast his rapidly over the group of Ministers as he took his sfeat. and suddenly said. "Where is Scribbleton, the Representative of the Fourth EstaVe? Not here, not here? Eh, what! what!" "Your Majesty has been graciously pleased to call the Ministers of State only; Scribbleton is not a minister," coldly answered the Chief Minister. "Yes, yes, of course. Quite forgot—but I wish he were here; clever fellow, Scribbleton. eh, what! what! Well, now to business, gen- tlemen. Have you arrived at any decision in this national crisis?" and the King tilted his Royal crown a little on one side, which gave him a somewhat rakish assumption of Royal complacence. The Minister of the Public Purse here sol- emnly rose. "I regret to say, your Majeetv, that we have not yet been able to definitely solve the political and financial problem that now lies before the country, but hope very shortly to introduce measures that will meet the difficulty. "Of course, of course! Shortly? In the meantime, of course, our cousin, King Grand- osa. will await our pleasure. in this matter with all his kingly consideration, eh. what? what?" and there was a suspicion of Royal sarcasm in the King's voice that was not lost on his hear- eTa. "His Majesty of Teutonia," replied the War Minister, "will think twice, your Majesty, be- fore he forces our hands further. I have al- ready mobilised the regular army, and although it is considerably short of the regulation num- bers owing to the diminution of the army grants for home purposes, still, as a fighting force with an illustrious reputation behind it, it will fight, if neccssary, to the bitter end." Here the Chief Ocean Lord. not to be out- beaten in his capacity as sponsor for the fleet. broke in, "And the Navy, your Majesty, is superb in ships; and although the manning of the fleet is somewhat below the average, I can vouoh for the esprit de corps that animates every sailor engaged." "Exactly," said the King, with a grim smile, "small items, but perfect. In the meantime, the swarming forces of Teutonia, equally armed to our own, are ready to join issues in the struggle for ascendancy. Gentlemen, it is numbers as well as reputation we require to- day, if we wish to maintain our national posi- tion and I ask you plainly, are you in a posi- tion to guarantee that 'necessity?" and the King nonchalantly filled his meerschaum and looked around. "If we only were sure of the method whereby the nation were roused to the danger that sur- rounds us, I feel confident that Cartoonia would be equal to the occasion; but, unfortunately, the masses have been so well and carefully cared for that it is difficult to bring them to a thor- ough understanding of the present posit^n," and the Minister of the Public Purse took out his handkerchief and mopped his heated brow with energy. "Just so," aJiswered the King. "just so. You have made them so comfortable at home that the masses have never realised the contingencies of a foreign element entering into an amalgam- ation of national benefits, and have so far been content with the success of the enterprise with- out weighing the responsibilities of coi-opera- tion, eh, what? what?" "Your Majesty's superior wisdom states the case exactly. Still. I have faith in the people, your Majesty, and if the matter really comes to extremes, I can vouch for the stability of Cartoonia's patriotism," replied the Chief Min- ister. "My dear fellow," said the King, with the air of good fellowship which he at times assum- ed, "your confidence in the patriotism of Car- toonia can never equal my own opinion on that point. But patriotism unprepared is a poor defence against well-organised aggression, and King Grandosa is in a position to defy all Car- toonia's historic virtues, unless these virtues are backed up by a necessary armament. What have you to say with regard to an immediate increase in the armaments of the nation?" and the King leaned back in his chair and blew a cloud of Royal tobacco smoke towards the painted ceiling. The dead silence that followed clearly indi- cated the uncertainty of an answer, and the King grimly looked around the faces that were before him. Then touching a. silver bell that tintinibulated its musical intonations through- out the chamber, the King added, "We must- add further to the assembly of counsellors if we wish to come to a wise agreement of this important matter, eh, what?' what?" The Royal Chamberlain appeared. "The presence of the Representative of the Fourth Estate is instantly commanded," said the King. (Fourth Chroniclo to be continued.) To M0THBB3-—Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup has been u?ed over fifty years by millions of mothers for their children teething, with perfect succeS:1. It will relieve the poor sufferer immediately. It is pleasing to taste; it produces natural quiet simp, by reUeveinsr child from pain. and tHO llttla cfierab awake3 "as bright H9 a button- .Of all chemists, m }*m r* —' — j

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