The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vol. XIV: RussianScandinavianMiscellaneous
The Snake in the Schoolroom
By Jonas Lie (18331908)
SCHULTHEISS strutted up and down the schoolroom with his brows knit. He was staring at his feet, of which he was exceedingly proud. He put one before the other with precision and elegance, step by step, and whenever he turned round made a deep bend of the knees, answering to the intellectual strain he was undergoing. His gait increased while his excitement grew. Suddenly he stopped, resuming thus, with a beaming, self-confident smile:
The History of the Spinning-Wheelthat is the title of the work I intend to write, in several volumes. What has there not been spun out of the spinning-wheel? The men have gone through the thread-loop like dots of wool. But I meanhmthat this romantic sort of stuff about woman I shall leave to the petty scribblers. As for me, IIhe ejaculated passionately, until his voice became a squeakI will light a firebrand, show up the slave who is being bought and sold, who is chained to the spinning-wheel. And then, looking solemnly at Minka, begins the struggle for liberty. It is a highly complicated and delicate subject, which only a genius with the most penetrating powers of psychological analysis can unravel in all its details. Such a man must know the female heart to the coreyes, to the very core, I tell you!
But when my pen is once let loose, shouted the pedagogue, waving and flourishing his right arm so that his bare, bony wrist could be seen far out of his sleeve, I will make revelationsha, such revelations!
I will lay bare all her weaponsthe whole arsenal! Step by step will I follow up her wretched career, and prove how her secret yet constant opposition and intrigue against the lord of creation has turned her best feelings into sharply pointed, poisoned weapons, into the most wily allurements, and has made her mistress of all the most treacherous arts, and has perfected her in deceit and duplicity, and has changed her whole nature! Yes, changed her whole nature!
She plays and coquets with man, declaimed the wrought-up Schultheiss, as selfishly, coldly, and cruelly as the cat with the mouse. She sitshe put on a bland smileby the trap, bewitchingly flattering and enticing him; and when the fool has jumped into ita contemptuous kick at the air illustrated his meaninghe surrenders his very life, while she weeps irresistible, heartrending tears!
She has turned into the worlds great impostor, whose satanic passion it is to allure and destroy! She is a dangerous creature, I say, a venomous, creeping thing, sparkling with a thousand colorshis voice grew sarcasticto be watched with suspicion, like a snake which you think you have tamed.
Schultheiss assumed a straddling position, and began rocking back and forth, with his head thrown back and his eyes fixed upon the ceiling. The snake was now hanging far down, and the pupils were watching it with breathless suspense.
A deadly pallor suddenly overspread his face; all his grandeur seemed to shrivel up and disappear; there was nothing but a nervous, fussy little figure left. He coughed, and began again with a stutter: