Do Clams Bite?
Chapter 3: Black Jacques
YOU CAN READ THE FIRST HALF
AS A YOUNG MAN, I went to work as an editor on the staff of The Young
People’s Cyclopedia. This compendium of useful facts, historical
anecdotes, brief lives, practical instruction, oversimplifications, and
misinformation was compiled first in a small office above Jack’s Twenty-Four
Hour Jokes, on the corner of Bolotomy and Main, in the heart of Babbington,
and later, when it had become an institution, in a concrete castle, one
of those structures that businesses build to show their nostalgia for feudalism,
outside town in a spot that had once been a potato farm and now held many
industrial and office buildings and was called, preposterously, a park.
The entries were written by a network of experts, amateurs, teachers, and
housewives who were assigned topics to develop within strict limits of
space. To add a little to the salary I received there, I wrote some
entries myself, borrowing as a pseudonym the name of a good friend, Eliza
Foote. As Eliza Foote, I wrote many entries in The Young People’s
Cyclopedia, including entries for most of the Leroys, points of interest
in and around Babbington, bivalves, and friends and acquaintances who deserved,
it seemed to me, a little space on a library shelf. For the entry
on Black Jacques, I used some of what Great-grandmother had told me, and
lots of sawdust.
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Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.
Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.