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He promptly fell to brooding not uncheerfully over those lost limericks of other years.
"You old darling," said Daffy, going over to the thin, crouched figure. "You've been holding out on me."
"Disgraceful," sniffed Alice Pollard Lambert. "Demoralizing."
Alfred made no further comment. He had a well defined suspicion that the old chap was holding out on him something far more desirable than limericks. If he could only lay his hands on his father's bank book. For some years now an inspection of that little book had been one of Alfred Lambert's chief aims in life. Just one little peek was all he asked. After that he could order his conduct according to the size of the figures in the book. As things stood now he was being in all likelihood dutifully and enduringly filial without any assurance of adequate compensation. Yet there was always that chance, that slim but not impossible chance. Hellishly tantalizing for an acquisitive nature. Alfred's was such a nature.
"There's one about the Persians," the old man was saying to his granddaughter. "Oh, a delightful thing, my dear child, an exquisite bit of vulgarity. Of course, I couldn't repeat it to you. Maybe after you're married. I'll tell your husband, and he'll tell you--if he's the right sort of a husband."
"I'm sure Alfred never sullies my ears with such indecencies," said Mrs. Lambert with a rising inflection in her overcultured voice.
"He doesn't get out enough," grated the old man. "Do you both good."
"Your suggestion, Grandpa, is the greatest inducement to matrimony I've ever had," said Daphne, patting the old man's shoulder. "I'll look for a victim immediately."
"A full-legged girl like yourself shouldn't have far to look," the old man said with an unedifying chuckle. "In my day young men had to depend almost entirely on the sense of touch in such matters. Nowadays the sense of sight seems to play a more important part. It simplifies things, perhaps, but robs courtship of a lot of adventure."
"Disgusting!" pronounced Mrs. Lambert, then added with a view to changing the subject, "Don't you think, Alfred, that Stella was right? Shouldn't we do something about this explosion?"
"Perhaps," agreed Alfred. "He usually comes out after he's had one."
"Rather rapidly," remarked Daffy. "The last time he came out through the side of the house with a couple of bricks in his pants."
"But he hates to be disturbed," went on Mrs. Lambert. "You know how he is."
"I know how he was," replied Daffy. "How he is now, God only knows."
"Perhaps it got him this time," suggested Grandpa Lambert, not without a touch of complacency.
"Think we should go, Alfred?" asked his wife.
"Well, if that explosion failed to disturb him," Mr. Lambert observed, "I don't see how the intervention of mere mortals could make much of an impression. But why ask me? You're his sister. You should know best what to do about his explosive highness."
At this stage in the deliberations Alfred, Junior, age seventeen, lolled into the room. He tossed his hat at a chair with which it failed to connect. He thrust his hands deep into his pockets and looked ugly. He confronted his mother and began to speak in one of those voices which had it been a face one could have instinctively slapped.
"How long am I going to be made a laughing stock out of?" he demanded. "How long, I ask you?"
"If you asked me," put in his sister, "I'd say as long as a suffering world allows you to live."
"What is it now, darling?" Mrs. Lambert asked with cloying solicitude.
The youth laughed unpleasantly.
"You ask me that?" he exclaimed. "Does another explosion mean nothing to you? Am I to have my friends saying, 'That loony uncle of yours has blown up his house again'? Am I to be made the butt of all the humor and wisecracks of the community? Do you know what all my friends are saying? Would you like to know?"
"No," said Daffy. "Emphatically not."
"Shut up, you," snapped her brother. "They're saying that they wouldn't be caught dead in this house. That's what they're saying."
"If they're caught in this house they will be dead," remarked Daffy with great decision. "I'll jolly well blow the whole kit and boodle of 'em to smithereens."
"Children, children," Mrs. Lambert protested.
"We've got to put a stop to it, Mother," announced Junior. "We've got to have a talk with him. I can't afford to be saddled with the stigma of a mad uncle."
"Yes, darling," his mother agreed. "I know how you must feel."
"Why don't you go yourself, dearie, and have a talk with him now?" asked his sister. "Lace it into him good and proper. Give him what for. Also, a microscopic portion of your infinitesimal mind."
"Think you're funny, don't you?" retorted the hope of the Lamberts.
"I do," replied Daffy. "I am."
"What I want to know is why does he have all these explosions?" Alfred Lambert inquired in an injured voice. "Are they essential to his happiness? What is he trying to prove, anyway?"
"Cellular petrification through atomic combustion," quoted Daphne weightily, "and vice versa. It's highly electrical and can be, when it feels like it, no end smelly."
"And noisy," came from the corner.
"I'll tell you what let's do," suggested Mr. Lambert with the verve of one who has just conceived a bright and original idea. "Let's all go see him."
"Why not?" replied Daffy with a slight shrug.
"All but me," amended Grandpa Lambert. "I'll sit here and think up limericks. It's safer."
"And naughtier," said Daffy as she led the way from the room. "Horrid old man."
"Wanton," he retorted.
|I||Criticizing an Explosion||3|
|II||Blotto's Tail Astounds||10|
|IV||The Little Man and the Scarecrow||37|
|V||A Furious Reception||51|
|VI||The Invasion of Hawk's Bed||62|
|VIII||Meg Removes Her Pull-offs||83|
|IX||A Nude Descends the Stairs||98|
|X||An Epidemic of Escapes||109|
|XI||The Pursuing Beard||132|
|XII||Looking the Gods Over||141|
|XIII||The Gods Step Down||133|
|XIV||The Gods Get Dressed||168|
|XV||The Gods Get Housed||180|
|XVI||Neptune Gets His Fish||193|
|XVII||Meg, Mercury, & Betts, Inc.||209|
|XVIII||A Demoralizing Tank Party||225|
|XIX||The Gods Leave Town||241|
|XX||Battle and Flight||261|
|XXI||The Gods on Trial||274|
|XXII||The Last Sigh||285|
Posted August 3, 2012
I loved this book so much it made the rounds of friends and was so worn out that I got another copy when it was re-released. This time its all mine. Whenever I need a real good laugh I read this book, the characters are very well written as is the story. The comedic escapades and hijinks just do not end and I highly recommend it for anyone and everyone. I spent four hours reading it one summer day on a bus stop bench because I couldn't put it down. I laughed so hard I almost cried and since then I am this writers greatst fan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.