True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 170
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170 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
outside came to see the fun and having come, stayed to join in
Those flies thought I was playing tag with them and they
entered into the spirit of the game in a whole-hearted way that
discouraged me. Actually my efforts to kill them with a towel
increased their number and I gave up in despair. One day I
spoke of my trouble to a friend and he suggested that I go to
the drug store and get a "swat the fly," a piece of iron screen
hitched to a handle. As he explained, the wind from my towel
blew the fly aside before the towel reached him and that is why
the fly enjoyed the game so much, knowing he was in no danger
and that he was exhausting me by hanging around and encouraging
me to hit him with the towel. Well, I got the swat thing
and laid for my flies. So soon as I made out I was going to
take a nap, they put in an appearance, abandoning everything
else they were doing to devote themselves to me. But I fooled
them. Two settled down on the bed and pretended not to be
noticing me, sat there as if it were they who were going to take
a nap instead of I. I brought down my swat thing on them and
as there was no wind to warn them I got both of them. Others
came and others fell, too, and for half an hour I had everything
going my way. I killed every fly in sight and, having become
bloodthirsty by now I hunted for more. Some who had seen the
slaughter and retreated must have spread the news, for I longed
for more flies to swat, none came. They would come as far
as the window and look in but you could not hire a fly to enter
the room and strut around as they had all been doing.
Having thus been brought in such close communication with
flies I learned to respect them greatly. I also learned that they
are keen observers and that having seen a thing once they recognise
it thereafter. Now sometimes when I am absent the
flies will take things easy Just as they used to do. They even
go so far as to ignore my presence completely and pay no attention
to me at all. But they watch me closely and stand prepared
to act promptly. When I get ready to clear the room of
their presence, I do not exert myself at all. I merely pick up
my swat the fly machine and they leave in a body.
Learned professors may argue that flies can't reason and that
they can't talk, but I want those professors to explain to me how
those flies know the difference between a towel which gives
warning of its approach and the wire contraption that gives none.
Furthermore, how do the flies inform each other that I have
picked up the swatter? They can't all be watching me at the
same time and yet every one of them departs at the sight of the
swatter. As a matter of fact, I have not been able to get near
a fly with my swatter. in a week* and if I want a quiet nap
all I have to do is to place the swatter on the bed where the
flies can look in the window and see it and not one will venture
in the room.
I don't know anything about flyology, if there is such a thing,
but I do know that a fly has as much sense as a man about
Here’s what’s next.
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/170/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .