Telling his Faults

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Telling his Faults
by Stephen Leacock
Appeared in Literary Lapses, published in 1910.

"Oh, do, Mr. Sapling," said the beautiful girl at the summer hotel, "do let me read the palm of your hand! I can tell you all your faults."

Mr. Sapling gave an inarticulate gurgle and a roseate flush swept over his countenance as he surrendered his palm to the grasp of the fair enchantress.

"Oh, you're just full of faults, just full of them, Mr. Sapling!" she cried.

Mr. Sapling looked it.

"To begin with," said the beautiful girl, slowly and reflectingly, "you are dreadfully cynical: you hardly believe in anything at all, and you've utterly no faith in us poor women."

The feeble smile that had hitherto kindled the features of Mr. Sapling into a ray of chastened imbecility, was distorted in an effort at cynicism.

"Then your next fault is that you are too determined; much too determined. When once you have set your will on any object, you crush every obstacle under your feet."

Mr. Sapling looked meekly down at his tennis shoes, but began to feel calmer, more lifted up. Perhaps he had been all these things without knowing it.

"Then you are cold and sarcastic."

Mr. Sapling attempted to look cold and sarcastic. He succeeded in a rude leer.

"And you're horribly world-weary, you care for nothing. You have drained philosophy to the dregs, and scoff at everything."

Mr. Sapling's inner feeling was that from now on he would simply scoff and scoff and scoff.

"Your only redeeming quality is that you are generous. You have tried to kill even this, but cannot. Yes," concluded the beautiful girl, "those are your faults, generous still, but cold, cynical, and relentless. Good night, Mr. Sapling."

And resisting all entreaties the beautiful girl passed from the verandah of the hotel and vanished.

And when later in the evening the brother of the beautiful girl borrowed Mr. Sapling's tennis racket, and his bicycle for a fortnight, and the father of the beautiful girl got Sapling to endorse his note for a couple of hundreds, and her uncle Zephas borrowed his bedroom candle and used his razor to cut up a plug of tobacco, Mr. Sapling felt proud to be acquainted with the family.