I wish to share a joy with all my Reader.
I present: the incomparable Robert Benchley:
THIS CHILD KNOWS THE ANSWER—DO YOU?
We are occasionally confronted in the advertisements by the picture of an offensively bright-looking little boy, fairly popping with information, who, it is claimed in the text, knows all the inside dope on why fog forms in beads on a woolen coat, how long it would take to crawl to the moon on your hands and knees, and what makes oysters so quiet.
The taunting catch-line of the advertisement is: "This Child Knows the Answer—Do You?" and the idea is to shame you into buying a set of books containing answers to all the questions in the world except the question "Where is the money coming from to buy the books?"
Any little boy knowing all these facts would unquestionably be an asset in a business which specialized in fog-beads or lunar transportation novelties, but he would be awful to have about the house.
"Spencer," you might say to him, "where are Daddy's slippers?" To which he would undoubtedly ]answer: "I don't know, Dad," (disagreeable little boys like that always call their fathers "Dad" and stand with their feet wide apart and their hands in their pockets like girls playing boys' rôles on the stage) "but I do know this, that all the Nordic peoples are predisposed to astigmatism because of the glare of the sun on the snow, and that, furthermore, if you were to place a common ordinary marble in a glass of luke-warm cider there would be a precipitation which, on pouring off the cider, would be found to be what we know as parsley, just plain parsley which Cook uses every night in preparing our dinner."
With little ones like this around the house, a new version of "The Children's Hour" will have to be arranged, and it might as well be done now and got over with.
The Well-Informed Children's Hour
Between the dark and the day-light,
When the night is beginning lo lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation
Which is known as the children's hour.
'Tis then appears tiny Irving
With the patter of little feet,
To tell us that worms become dizzy
At a slight application of heat.
And Norma, the baby savant,
Comes toddling up with the news
That a valvular catch in the larynx
Is the reason why Kitty mews.
"Oh Grandpa," cries lovable Lester,
"Jack Frost has surprised us again,
By condensing in crystal formation
The vapor which clings to the pane!"
Then Roger and Lispinard Junior
Race pantingly down through the hall
To be first with the hot information
That bees shed their coats in the Fall.
No longer they clamor for stories
As they cluster in fun 'round my knee
But each little darling is bursting
With a story that he must tell me,
Giving reasons why daisies are sexless
And what makes the turtle so dour;
So it goes through the horrible gloaming
Of the Well-informed Children's Hour.
The REAL "Children's Hour" poem is by Longfellow: