THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 4: SIR DINADAN THE HUMORIST
It seemed to me that this quaint lie was most simply and beautifully
told; but then I had heard it only once, and that makes a difference;
it was pleasant to the others when it was fresh, no doubt.
Sir Dinadan the Humorist was the first to awake, and he soon roused
the rest with a practical joke of a sufficiently poor quality.
He tied some metal mugs to a dog's tail and turned him loose,
and he tore around and around the place in a frenzy of fright,
with all the other dogs bellowing after him and battering and
crashing against everything that came in their way and making
altogether a chaos of confusion and a most deafening din and
turmoil; at which every man and woman of the multitude laughed
till the tears flowed, and some fell out of their chairs and
wallowed on the floor in ecstasy. It was just like so many children.
Sir Dinadan was so proud of his exploit that he could not keep
from telling over and over again, to weariness, how the immortal
idea happened to occur to him; and as is the way with humorists
of his breed, he was still laughing at it after everybody else had
got through. He was so set up that he concluded to make a speech--
of course a humorous speech. I think I never heard so many old
played-out jokes strung together in my life. He was worse than
the minstrels, worse than the clown in the circus. It seemed
peculiarly sad to sit here, thirteen hundred years before I was
born, and listen again to poor, flat, worm-eaten jokes that had
given me the dry gripes when I was a boy thirteen hundred years
afterwards. It about convinced me that there isn't any such thing
as a new joke possible. Everybody laughed at these antiquities--
but then they always do; I had noticed that, centuries later.
However, of course the scoffer didn't laugh--I mean the boy. No,
he scoffed; there wasn't anything he wouldn't scoff at. He said
the most of Sir Dinadan's jokes were rotten and the rest were
petrified. I said "petrified" was good; as I believed, myself,
that the only right way to classify the majestic ages of some of
those jokes was by geologic periods. But that neat idea hit
the boy in a blank place, for geology hadn't been invented yet.
However, I made a note of the remark, and calculated to educate
the commonwealth up to it if I pulled through. It is no use
to throw a good thing away merely because the market isn't ripe yet.