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XI. - The Reader.
“You need not hurt me,” said the book; “you will only get less for me second hand, and I did not write myself.”
“That is true,” said the reader. “My quarrel is with your author.”
“Ah, well,” said the book, “you need not buy his rant.”
“That is true,” said the reader. “But I thought him such a cheerful writer.”
“I find him so,” said the book.
“You must be differently made from me,” said the reader.
“Let me tell you a fable,” said the book. “There were two men wrecked upon a desert island; one of them made believe he was at home, the other admitted —”
“Oh, I know your kind of fable,” said the reader. “They both died.”
“And so they did,” said the book. “No doubt of that. And everybody else.”
“That is true,” said the reader. “Push it a little further for this once. And when they were all dead?”
“They were in God’s hands, the same as before,” said the book.
“Not much to boast of, by your account,” cried the reader.
“Who is impious now?” said the book.
And the reader put him on the fire.
The coward crouches from the rod,
And loathes the iron face of God.