Saturday, March 25, 2017

"I Have Never Before Caught a Burglar, and the Experience, I Find, Has Taken It Out of Me a Little"

"Chance, the Juggler."
By William Caine (1873-1923).
First appearance: The Century Magazine, January 1918.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; hit the "Zoom In" button several times.)
"His hands rose, with grotesque effect, above the door of the safe."
What are the odds? In doing the artwork for a poster advertising a new safe manufactured by the Maddison Domestic Thesaurus Corporation, Señor Mendoza, a commercial artist, acci-dentally depicts as the would-be safecracker a real man he has never seen, an individual renowned for his charity and upright character, a pillar of the community who isn't above suing the pants off anybody and everybody for this outrageous libel. Alarmed, Mendoza contacts his solicitor Wetherby and they both take it to Mr. Abbott, the head of the corpora-tion, who, however, sees the controversy as an opportunity for tons of free publicity:

   "Mr. Abbott was enchanted. Had the injunction been refused, he must have cut his throat. Instead, he got, in the company of two of his junior counsel, his own solicitor, Wetherby, and Mendoza slightly drunk."

And so it is that Señor Mendoza, upon returning home at "ten minutes to four of a dark, foggy morning" and discovering that he has forgotten his latch-key, must break and enter his own house, only to encounter a situation that will cause his eyes to grow large and force from his astonished lips an exclamation: "Caramba! Car-r-ramba!"
- What little information that we could find about William Caine comes from entries on the SFE (HERE) and the ISFDb (HERE).

The bottom line:
   For neither Man nor Angel can discern
   Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
   Invisible, except to God alone,
   By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth.
   — Milton

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