An Infant Industry

— One might as well spend one’s time, like Domitian, catching flies as trying to tell the Club anything new about protection, trusts, or “ combines. ” The members, however, may have overlooked one branch of human activity, to which, as it primarily concerns the mind, their special consideration is due.

It was revealed in an editorial correspondence, which “the party of the first part” opened with the announcement, “ This letter is from a Puzzler, who wants to take charge of the Puzzle Department of the Weekly Visitor,” — so to call the periodical addressed. The Puzzler went on to say that he has been an “ active Puzzler ” for years, is a member of the Eastern Puzzlers’ League, and enjoys a wide acquaintance with Puzzlers at large.

All this opened an alluring vista of knowledge in unfamiliar fields. The idea of men Separating themselves from the world as “ Puzzlers,” and rejoicing in the distinction, was new. Their industry gave promise of proving an interesting infant. Investigation, especially with reference to the League, was undertaken, and its results are hereby given to a portion of mankind not Puzzlers. The Eastern Puzzlers’ League is an actual organization of “ the best Puzzlers living east of the Mississippi,” and of proved ability to make “ puzzles up to the standard.” It holds semi-annual conventions on July 4 and December 25. If their festivals are not red-letter days, it is plainly not the fault of the Puzzlers. Yet the proper pride evinced in their choice of dates extends no further, for pride of place — at least of inherited name — plays no part in the Puzzlers’ conventions. All personality, if they claim any such as the world knows it, is abandoned at the doors of these august sessions. According to an authentic report of the Eastern Puzzlers’ League’s seventeenth convention (and thus we may see how the world wags), the members of the body appear under such names as Arty Fishel, B. Ver, F. Aitchell, Kosciusko McGinty, and Nick R. Bocka. A report is read by Maud Lynn. Barnyard reads another, and it is ordered to be printed in the Eastern Enigma, the official organ of the League. Officers are elected, all under their puzzling pseudonyms. Anonyme suggests “the advisability of instituting a puzzleistic exhibit at the World’s-Fair.” A committee is appointed to report upon this subject, and the convention adjourns.

The seriousness of the whole affair is appalling. Yet one into whose ken the new planet swims cannot refrain from light conjectures. The convention report gives but a hint of the strange life of “ puzzledom.” Are only the persons capable of making “ puzzles up to the standard ” banded together ? Have not the consumers of the article, like the producers, their League ? Following the Puzzlers into their daily lives, one hopes they may be still B. Ver and Nick R. Bocka to friends and kinsmen. When Arty Fishel led his wife, if he has one, to the altar, did he say, “ I, Arty, take thee, Hannah [or what you will] to be my wedded wife,” thereby making her Mrs. Fishel ? Do they see “ charades ” in trees, “ squares ” in the running brooks, “ rebuses ” in stones, puzzles in everything ?

Who can tell ? When some Stockton enters these untrodden paths, and writes a Puzzler story, the world will rejoice and be wiser. Till then the puzzle industry, though without benefit of tariff it appears to thrive, must remain an infant unknown outside the Club.