At the suggestion of several hundred
thousand ladies desiring to revel and possibly riot in the saturnalia of
equal franchise, the unnamed lakes in that vast and little known region
in Alaska bounded by the Ylanqui River and the Thunder Mountains were now
being inexorably named after women.
It was a beautiful thought. Already several exquisite, lonely bits of water,
gem-set among the eternal peaks, mirrors for cloud and soaring eagle, a
glass for the moon as keystone to the towering arch of stars, had been
Already there was Lake Amelia Jones, Lake Sadie Dingleheimer, Lake Maggie
McFadden, and Lake Mrs. Gladys Doolittle Batt.
I longed to see these lakes under the glamour of their newly added beauty.
Imagine, therefore, my surprise and happiness when I received the following
communication from my revered and beloved chief, Professor Farrago, dated
from the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, whither he had been summoned
in haste to examine and pronounce upon the identity of a very small bird
supposed to be a specimen of that rare and almost extinct creature, the
two-toed titmouse, Mustitta duototus, to be scientifically exact, as I
invariably strive to be. The important letter in question was as follows:
Percy Smith, B. S., D. F., etc.,
Curator, Department of Anthropology,
Bronx Park, N. Y.
My Dear Mr. Smith:
Several very important and determined
ladies, recently honoured by the Government in having a number of lakes
in Alaska named after them, have decided to make a pilgrimage to that region,
inspired by a characteristic desire to gaze upon the lakes named after
They request information upon the
1st. Are the waters of the lakes
in that locality sufficiently clear for a lady to do her hair by? In that
event, the expedition will not burden itself with lookingglasses.
2nd. Are there any hotels? (You
need merely say, no. I have tried to explain to them that it is, for the
most part, an unexplored wilderness, but they insist
upon further information from you.)
3rd. If there are hotels, is there
also running water to be had? (You may tell them that there is plenty of
4th. What are the summer outdoor
amusements? (You may inform them that there is plenty of bathing, boating,
fishing, and an abundance of shade trees. Also, excellent mountain-climbing
to be had in the vicinity. You need not mention the pastimes of “Hunt the
Flea” or “Dodge the Skeeter.”) I am not by nature cruel, Mr. Smith,
but when these ladies informed me that they had decided to penetrate that
howling and unexplored wilderness without being burdened or interfered
with by any member of my sex, for one horrid and criminal moment I hoped
they would. Because in that event none of them would ever come back.
However, in my heart milder and
more humane sentiments prevailed. I pointed out to them the peril of their
undertaking, the dangers of an unexplored region, the necessity of masculine
guidance and support.
My earnestness and solicitude were, I admit, prompted partly by a desire
to utilize this expensively projected expedition as a vehicle for the accumulation
of scientific data.
As soon as I heard of it I conceived the plan of attaching two members
of our Bronx Park scientific staff to the expedition—you, and Mr. Brown.
But no sooner did these determined ladies hear of it than they repelled
the suggestion with indignation.
Now, the matter stands as follows: These ladies don’t want any man in the
expedition; but they have at last realized that they’ve got to take a guide
or two. And there are no feminine guides in Alaska.
Therefore, considering the immense and vital importance of such an opportunity
to explore and report upon this unknown region at somebody else’s expense,
I suggest that you and Brown meet these ladies at Lake Mrs. Susan W. Pillsbury,
which lies on the edge of the region to be explored: that you, without
actually perjuring yourselves too horribly, convey to them the misleading
impression that you are the promised guides provided for them by a cowed
and avuncular Government; and that you take these fearsome ladies about
and let them gaze at their reflections in the various lakes named after
them; and that, while the expedition lasts, you secretly make such observations,
notes, reports, and collections of the flora and fauna of the region as
your opportunities may permit.
No time is to be lost. If, at Lake Susan W. Pillsbury, you find regular
guides awaiting these ladies, you will bribe these guides to go away and
you yourselves will then impersonate the guides. I know of no other way
for you to explore this region, as all our available resources at Bronx
Park have already been spent in painting appropriate scenery to line the
cages of the mammalia, and also in the present exceedingly expensive expedition
in search of the polka-dotted boom-bock, which is supposed to inhabit the
jungle beyond Lake [Plug].
My most solemn and sincere wishes accompany you. Bless you!
End of PART ONE..... GO TO PART