Best Short Stories

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At the end of the banquet, when they were all bidding the guest good-bye with tears streaming down their faces, the only pessimist in town got up and said:

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, for obtruding my repellent personality on this joyful assemblage, but our dear guest will not, I am sure, object to answering a simple question. I have no civic pride myself, but do you mind, sir, telling me the object of your visit to this lovely little burg?"

"Certainly not," said the guest, as he prepared to take a quick slant through the door, "no objection at all. You see, my friends, civic pride is the only thing that the government hasn't taxed. You'll get your bills a little later, based on your own estimates. Much obliged for all your first-hand information."


"Johnny, it was very wrong for you and the boy next door to fight."

"We couldn't help it, father."

"Could you not have settled your differences by a peaceful discussion of the matter, calling in the assistance of unprejudiced opinion, if need be?"

"No, father. He was sure he could whip me and I was sure I could whip him, and there was only one way to find out."


The sergeant-major had the reputation of never being at a loss for an answer. A young officer made a bet with a brother officer that he would in less than twenty-four hours ask the sergeant-major a question that would baffle him.

The sergeant-major accompanied the young officer on his rounds, in the course of which the cook-house was inspected. Pointing to a large copper of water just commencing to boil, the officer said:

"Why does that water only boil round the edges of the copper and not in the centre?"

"The water round the edge, sir," replied the veteran, "is for the men on guard; they have their breakfast half an hour before the remainder of the company."


Levi Cohen was looking very dejected. That morning he left the house with five pounds in his pocket to try his luck at the races, but, alas! he had returned at nightfall footsore and weary, and nothing in his possession but a bad half-penny.

No wonder his better half was in a bad temper. "How is it," she snapped, "that you're so unlucky at the races, and yet you always win at cards?"

"Well, my dear," responded Levi, meekly, "you see, it's this way: I don't shuffle the horses."


A keen-eyed mountaineer led his overgrown son into a country schoolhouse.

"This here boy's arter larnin'," he announced. "What's yer bill o' fare?"

"Our curriculum, sir," corrected the school-master, "embraces geography, arithmetic, trigonometry--"

"That'll do," interrupted the father. "That'll do. Load him up well with triggernometry. He's the only poor shot in the family."


"Now, my dear girl," said Bluebeard, "remember you can go anywhere in the house but the pantry. That is locked up, and the key will be placed under the mat. Remove it at your peril."

Consumed with curiosity, Mrs. Bluebeard could scarcely wait until her husband had cranked his machine before she was trying the key. It fitted perfectly. She turned it, and entered. Within was the finest collection of provisions that she had ever seen: at least a hundred dozen eggs preserved in water, sacks of potatoes, barrels of wheat--in fact, a complete commissary department.

And then, as she looked out of the window, she gave a faint scream. Her husband was returning. He had a puncture. She retained her presence of mind, however, long enough to step to the telephone. Just as she had finished delivering the message Bluebeard entered.

"Ha!" he exclaimed. "So you have forced the pantry. I see flour on your lips. Prepare to die."

Mrs. Bluebeard only smiled.

"Not so fast," she muttered. At this moment Herbert Hoover entered the house.

"So you are the wretch who has been storing up private food supplies, contrary to my orders!" he exclaimed. "Ninety days in jail!"

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